Lebanon News

Amal, Hizbullah to ally in local polls

Hizbullah and Amal have pledged to ally in local elections in the former occupied zone, which the government on Wednesday scheduled for Sept. 9.

The two parties’ leaderships met late Tuesday to discuss events in the region and domestic issues, including Speaker Nabih Berri’s suggestion to form a new national political front.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, Hizbullah said it would “study the matter carefully.”

As for the local polls, Hizbullah said that the two parties “affirmed their option of forming an alliance to guarantee effective participation by our people (in the liberated areas), who have sacrificed so much.

“The two sides have also agreed on the procedural mechanism to carry out this agreement,” the statement added.

The announcement came amid speculation that the elections would be postponed, due to tension between the two parties, which erupted most recently during a Hizbullah-sponsored event in the southern village of Anqoun three weeks ago.

During the three postwar parliamentary election rounds, Syrian officials pressured Amal and Hizbullah to ally, to limit any tension that might result from a direct face-off.

On Wednesday, the Melchite bishop of Marjayoun, Antoine Hayek, urged “reconciliation” ahead of local elections.

Hayek called holding the polls a good idea “in principle,” saying that “if these municipalities are going to have an independent authority, by which we mean the freedom to act regarding municipal projects to develop the region and boost its economy, then this is good.

“But if this is going to create an atmosphere of division and tension, then it would be better for them not to take place.”

Hayek stressed the need for a comprehensive reconciliation among the people of the area, “so that elections can take place without tension and hatred.”

“No official has approached me about the topic (of elections),” Hayek added.

The flight of hundreds of former South Lebanon Army militiamen and their families following Israel’s withdrawal last year, as well as the displacement that accompanied more than two decades of occupation, could translate into low voting percentages, allowing Hizbullah and Amal to dominate the polls.

The Interior Ministry on Wednesday issued a call for the local elections, which will see 1,000 officials selected in 63 municipalities in Tyre, Jezzine, Bint Jbeil, Marjayoun and Hasbaya.

Almost 800 of the seats will be for local councils, while dozens of mukhtars will also be elected. The last local polls for the former occupied territories towns and villages took place in 1963.

 

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