BEIRUT: Elections for the Druze Spiritual Council, which oversees the community’s non-religious matters, will take place in September, Sheikh Naim Hasan announced Wednesday.
In a rare media appearance, Hasan, the sect’s leading spiritual authority in Lebanon, told a news conference at the Druze Community House in Verdun that the poll would be held in line with Articles 15 and 16 of the law organizing the affairs of the Druze sect, issued on June 9, 2006. The six-year-term of the current members is about to expire.
Hasan said the council has significant prerogatives that enable it to improve the standing of the sect.
“It administers the sect’s non-religious, social, financial affairs along with financial interests ... and works on preserving its rights,” he added.
“On this occasion, we call on all our brothers to take part in the polls ... to demonstrate the huge responsibility everyone shoulders, so that candidacy and selection will be based on faithfulness, knowledge and familiarity with our situation, and related long-standing problems,” he said.
The council comprises around 100 members and includes Druze ministers and MPs along with former MPs and other Druze figures.
Sources familiar with the elections told The Daily Star that Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt and the head of the Lebanese Democratic Party Aley MP Talal Arslan, rival Druze leaders, have likely reached a consensus on who will run for the seats.
According to the sources, candidates supported by Jumblatt will run for 60 percent of the seats while supporters of Arslan will compete for the rest.
Hasan and members of the current council were elected in 2006.
Arslan, whose supporters boycotted the polls at the time, proclaimed Sheikh Nasreddine al-Gharib as Druze spiritual leader, while Jumblatt’s supporters maintain that Hasan is the spiritual leader.
But a source close to Arslan told The Daily Star Wednesday that it was still too early to speak about the elections or whether they would bring an end to the dispute between Arslan and Hasan. Hasan was elected for a 15-year term.
Separately, when asked whether he had any messages for the Druze in Syria, the sheikh said that members of that country’s Druze community had long been champions of justice, democracy and stability. He added that given the current circumstances, all stances should reflect “wisdom.”
Jumblatt has repeatedly urged members of the Druze sect in Syria to refrain from taking part in the Syrian regime’s crackdown against a relentless 16-month uprising.
Prior to the news conference, Prime Minister Najib Mikati visited the Druze Community House to offer his condolences to Hasan over the passing of Sheikh Hasan Harmoush.