Hariri attends the CEDRE conference in Beirut, Tuesday, March 20, 2018. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)
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The battle for the upcoming parliamentary elections took another twist Tuesday with reports that President Michel Aoun is interfering in the formation of electoral tickets to isolate his political opponents, prompting a strong denial from the Free Patriotic Movement's Change and Reform bloc. Aoun's alleged interference to influence the outcome of the elections comes amid spiraling political tensions in the lead up to Lebanon's first polls in nine years, slated for May 6, reflecting the rival parties' confusion and difficulties in forging electoral alliances. The parliamentary Change and Reform bloc of the FPM, founded by Aoun, denied that the president was intervening in the elections.The FPM's officials and supporters have long described Aoun as "a strong president" even before he was elected president on Oct. 31, 2016 .Local media said Nicolas' withdrawal was intended to pave the way for candidate Sarkis Sarkis, a businessman, to replace him in the FPM's electoral list in the Metn district against a rival list to be announced by Metn MP Michel Murr.Jreissati, one of eight ministers representing the FPM in the Cabinet, said preparations were underway to announce the FPM's candidate lists on March 24, two days before the Interior Ministry's deadline for parties to submit their tickets expires.
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