BEIRUT: Lebanon’s lawyers elected on Sunday Amal Hadad to head the Beirut Bar Association. Haddad is the first woman to preside over the association since the establishment of the syndicate in 1920s. She was elected after the pullout of contender Georges Jreij from the race ahead of the second electoral round. “You surpassed all obstacles and complications when you elected a woman and you overcame all divergences since the woman that stands before you is the head of the order for the first time in the history of Lebanon,” Haddad said while addressing supporters after the election’s results were announced.
“What unites the order cannot be affected by political divides and electoral battles; I ran in the polls as an independent whose loyalty is to the order and the nation,” she added.
Later on Sunday, President Michel Sleiman called Haddad to congratulate her for the new post, a statement issued by the presidential palace said.
“The election of [Amal] Haddad at the head of the Beirut Bar Association is a pioneering step and reflects the [lawyers’] awareness of the need to promote the role of women,” Sleiman was quoted as saying in the statement.
Haddad was elected during the first round of the elections with 2,393 votes along with three other candidates for the order’s board including Future Movement candidate Toufic Nouairi with 1,828 votes, Phalange Party candidate Jreij with 1,825 votes and Free Patriotic Movement candidate George Baroud with 1,715 votes.
Members of the Beirut Bar Association elected in a first round of votes four new members to the body’s board, while a president for the association is elected from among those four new members in a second round.
Jreij, who withdrew from the race to head the association, following the outcome of the first round of voting, congratulated Haddad for the win, while stressing that he would stand by her side and would hold on to the principles of the order and its council.
“The order would always be a pioneer in democratic practices and power rotation and I thank all the lawyers who supported me,” Jreij said.
For her part, Haddad praised her colleagues for proving that the order’s elections were governed by democratic principles away from political or sectarian divides.
“There is no difference between who you voted for because you conveyed a democratic image of an order which is a symbol of freedom and democracy,” Haddad said.
Haddad stressed that the order proved to be a symbol of national unity and freedom rather than a bastion for political or sectarian dispute.
“We are not a political or sectarian order but one that defends the lawyers against all kinds of intimidation,” Haddad said.
Haddad also voiced hope that media outlets would refrain from associating the results of the order’s elections to any political party or group as she stressed that the order “is free and will preserve its national role.”
Haddad, who ran for the elections as an independent, was backed by the opposition coalition but also gained votes from March 14 loyalists and independents.