Two empty chairs were left at the debate, with Gemayel and Sfeir both absent. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)
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A debate was held Friday between three candidates for Beirut I's Maronite seat, marking a rare occurrence in Lebanon's political landscape. Debaters took the stage at Metropolis Cinema in Beirut's Ashrafieh neighborhood. They included Massoud Achkar, a candidate on the joint Free Patriotic Movement-Tashnag list that is also being backed by the Hunchak party, a usual rival of Tashnag; Roger Choueiri, running on the independent Loyalty to Beirut List; and Gilbert Doumit, a candidate on the Kilna Watani (All for the Nation) independent coalition running in nine districts across Lebanon.Tension was in the air even before the debate began after the incumbent Maronite MP Nadim Gemayel and candidate George Sfeir failed to show up."Since the beginning, it was a condition for me that all the candidates are there," he told The Daily Star.He added that Doumit's LiBaladi (For My Country) independent party was seen to be involved in organizing the debate, and said a "group if LiBaldi supporters," had funded it.
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