Lebanon News

Saudi to seek second term as Sidon mayor if elections held

BEIRUT: A number of Sidon’s officials Wednesday welcomed a decision by the city’s Mayor Mohammad Saudi to run for a second term if municipal elections take place as planned in May.

A group comprising a host of local and national political and religious leaders, including Sidon MP Bahia Hariri, former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and Saudi himself, the Sidon Consultative Gathering voiced its support for Saudi.

“We confirm our stance in support of the municipality and Mayor Mohammad Saudi,” a statement by the group read.

“We have faith that he will do what is right for the city and its environment,” it added.

The gathering was referring, in particular, to Saudi’s management of the city’s waste and his achievement to rid Sidon of its infamous mountain of garbage.

Saudi previously stated that he would not consider running for another term and would vacate his post when his tenure expired, even if municipal elections were postponed. However, speaking to The Daily Star Wednesday, Saudi listed a host of reasons that propelled him to pursue re-election.

“A lot of people convinced me to stay, and there were a lot of considerations that came to mind when I made the decision,” he said.

He highlighted one incident in particular that drove him to change his mind.

Last week, the Popular Nasserite Organization stopped a Sukleen garbage truck and prevented it from entering the city’s waste treatment facility. “The issue, although it escalated, was eventually contained, but there were some personal attacks made against me and this prompted me to seek a re-election,” he said.

Sidon’s Consultative Gathering also touched on a host of other issues. It decried the recent instability in the nearby Palestinian refugee camp of Ain al-Hilweh, as it lauded Palestinian factions who contained the issue with the help of the Lebanese Army.

Clashes erupted again Monday between rival factions, which left at least two dead.

Municipal elections across Lebanon are scheduled for May. Despite early indications, the vote may yet be postponed given the country’s turbulent political landscape and security considerations.

“I am 77 years old at the moment ... ever heard of a 77-year old mayor?” Saudi asked jokingly. “By the end of my second term I will 83, I hope I will retain the energy to fulfill my duties.”

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 31, 2016, on page 3.

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