A billboard shows candidate Paulette Yacoubian in Ashrafieh, Wednesday, April 11, 2018. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)
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East Beirut is gearing up for a blockbuster electoral fight.The headline event pits MP Michel Pharaon, the minister of state for planning, against Nicolas Sehnaoui, a former telecommunications minister and vice president of the Free Patriotic Movement.The two heavyweights head lists representing the traditional parties. Pharaon leads a March 14 coalition that includes the Lebanese Forces, Kataeb and Ramgavar, an Armenian party.Future-allied MP Sebouh Kalpakian has joined Sehnaoui's FPM-Tashnag list.East Beirut will likely have the lowest vote threshold to enter Parliament in the country, some 5,000 to 7,000 ballots, depending on turnout.Whether Nahna Beirut is truly an outsider's list is up to debate.In a bout of political theater, Tueni's list also includes Sebouh Mekhjian, the former head of Pharaon's political office.Al-Akhbar Tuesday published a brief report that Riad Akel and Imad Wakim, both Lebanese Forces candidates on Pharaon's list, were in a spat over preferential votes. Under the new electoral law, voters can choose one "preferred" candidate on their selected list – pitting candidates against others on their own slate for higher billing in seat distribution.Sehnaoui denies the allegations.
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