Lebanon News

Lebanon's independent groups announce 9 lists

BEIRUT: Independent groups launched their final electoral lists for nine of Lebanon’s 15 districts Monday, flaunting their 66 candidates at a packed house of hundreds at Beirut’s Forum de Beirut.

“We don’t agree on everything, but we agree on taking on the battle together across all of Lebanon,” Former Telecommunications Minister Charbel Nahas, an independent candidate in Metn, said during the opening address.

“Revolution, Revolution,” attendees chanted in response. “All for the nation.”

Speaking of the allegiances of local political leaders to foreign nations and the divisive Iran-Saudi power play, Nahas said: “It’s as if we’re watching a football match between two teams, and we [Lebanese] are the football being kicked around.”

Nahas is the founder of Citizens Within a State (Mouwatinoun w Mouwatinat fi Dawle), an independent movement that won roughly 8 percent of the vote in 2016 municipal elections.

Monday’s announcement marks the historic formation of an unprecedented anti-sectarian front against established parties, with many different civil society groups, independent candidates and recently-formed independent parties putting aside their many differences and forming united lists.

The groups have together formed lists under the name “Kilna Watani,” or “All for the Nation” in areas including Beirut I; Zahle; Metn; Kesrouan-Jbeil; Nabatieh - Bint Jbeil - Marjayoun - Hasbaya; Tripoli - Minyeh - Dinieh; Batroun - Koura - Bsharri - Zgharta; Baabda; and Chouf - Aley.

“Now, nobody has an excuse to buy corrupted products whose expiry date has long passed,” Nahas said of established parties.

For Gilbert Doumit, an independent candidate in Beirut I, the month-long and often testy process of negotiations between independent parties “blossomed into something beautiful.”

“No other party is able to do this, to unite across sects, from the north to the south, on one agenda and the same principles, focused on one project,” He told The Daily Star. This was due to the explicitly sectarian nature of the other parties, Doumit said, which left them unable to form an inclusive national vision.

Despite the high turnout at the event, no TV station other than state-run Lebanon TV covered it live. This was indicative of the high level of political control in Lebanon’s media landscape, Paula Yacoubian, a longtime host on Future Movement-owned Future TV, said.

Yacoubian, a respected journalist and TV host, resigned from Future TV earlier this year in order to run as a candidate in Beirut I with independent party Sabaa.

“Look around, look at all these faces,” Yacoubian told The Daily Star at the event. “I feel proud and excited. At the same time I feel sad because we don’t have live TV coverage like everyone else, and that’s a shame.”

“I hope we create momentum where we will really bring change,” Yacoubian said. “I don’t think we could ever fail them [Lebanese citizens].”

Speaking of being both a candidate and a journalist, Yacoubian said: “We know more than anyone else how badly this country is being destroyed, and that normal people need a voice.”

Lebanon's first elections in nine years are due to be held under a new proportional law for the first time. The law is expected to divide the parliamentary seats among a more diverse range of players, giving independent groups a fighting chance.

Any Lebanese under the age of 30 has not yet had the chance to vote, due to parliament’s controversial decision to extended their terms three times - ostensibly for security reasons and a technical delay to prepare for the new electoral law - elongating parliament’s current term to nine years instead of four.

“We’re simply disgusted after all these years,” an attendee who identified himself as Munif told The Daily Star. “But today, for the first time in nine years, I feel my political appetite has been reinvigorated.”

Layal Bou Moussa, an independent candidate for Batroun and a reporter for Al-Jadeed TV, oriented a message to the “Civil War generation.”

“Your generation that, in the absence of their state, worked so hard to raise your children so that they don’t feel what you felt - don’t let your children surrender, don’t vote for what you have fought so hard to keep them away from,” she told The Daily Star.

Bou Moussa said, “Sadly, the Lebanese government love to work as journalists. They tell us ‘look at this trash here’ or ‘this prison needs to be improved’ - but their job is not to teach me, their job is to find solutions. My job is to go see where there is a gap.”

She added, “So we decided that since they’re such good reporters, we’ll let them go for journalism and well take over the politics.”

Roughly 30 percent of Kilna Watani’s candidates are women, far surpassing the few select females present on the lists of established parties.

Independent lists unaffiliated with Kilna Watani have been formed in other districts in Lebanon, such as the joint Civil Society - Kataeb party list in Baabda which includes environmental activist heavyweights Paul Abi Rached and Ajwad Ayashe, and a Chouf - Aley list that includes Mark Daou, an influential independent figure.

However, no other groups have been able to field candidates across Lebanon.

“Today is a party and celebration of the historical achievement we’ve made in uniting civil society,” Laury Haytayan, an oil and gas expert and Beirut I candidate, told The Daily Star. “The bigger party will be on May 6 when everybody goes to vote for Kilna Watani.”

To those Lebanese who had slipped into apathy after successive governments’ failures to address basic issue such as electricity, water and waste treatment, Haytayan said, “You are wrong, you have to give a chance to the alternative.”

“There is no magic, the only magic is when you vote and make a change,” she said. “If you sit at home on May 6, you must know you will be responsible for the destruction of this country.”

Kolouna Watani’s nine lists across the country are as follows:

Zahle

Vanda Adouar Chedid - Greek Orthodox

Ghassan George Maalouf - Greek Catholic

Houd Nawaf al-Taima - Sunni

Mohammad Abbas Hasan - Shiite

Hanna Fawzi Habib - Maronite

Nabatieh - Bint Jbeil - Marjayoun - Hasbaya

Jamil Mohammad Ali Ballout - Shiite – Nabatieh

Rami Ali Hamid – Shiite – Bint Jbeil

Salah Mehdi Nourredine – Shiite – Bint Jbeil

Akram Mohammad Qaiss – Druze – Marjayoun-Hasbaya

Fadi Issam Abu Jamra – Greek Orthodox - Marjayoun-Hasbaya

Tripoli - Minyeh - Dinieh

Dany Mahmoud Othman – Sunni – Dinyeh

Ahmad Mustapha al-Dahibi – Sunni – Minyeh

Farah Ibrahim Issa – Greek Orthodox – Tripoli

Malik Faisal Mawlawi – Sunni – Tripoli

Wathiq Abdelrazzak al-Maqdam – Sunni – Tripoli

Mohammad Munzir Ashraf Maaliqi – Sunni – Tripoli

Yahi Kamal Mawloud – Sunni – Tripoli

Nariman al-Shamaa – Sunni – Tripoli

Zeineddine Dib – Alawite – Tripoli

Moussa Asaad Khoury – Maronite – Tripoli

Batroun - Koura - Bsharri - Zgharta

Layal Bou Moussa – Maronite – Batroun

Antoine Habib al-Khoury Harb – Maronite – Batroun

Bassam Nadim Ghantous – Greek Orthodox – Koura

Fadwa Faiz Nassif – Greek Orthodox – Koura

Edmond Mikhail Tawk – Maronite – Bsharri

Maurice Romanos Al-Koure– Maronite – Bsharri

Riad Sarkis Ghazala – Maronite – Zgharta

Antoine Youssef Yammine – Maronite - Zgharta

Antonia Ramez Ghamre – Maronite – Zgharta

Beirut I

Laury Haytayan - Armenian Orthodox

Gilbert Doumit - Maronite

Joumana Salloum Haddad - Minority Christian

Ziad Raymond Abs – Greek Orthodox

Paulette Yacoubian - Armenian Orthodox

Levon Telvizian – Armenian Orthodox

Yorgui Teyrouz – Armenian Catholic

Lucien Bourjeily – Greek Catholic

Kesrouan-Jbeil

Mohammad Karam al-Moqdad – Shiite – Jbeil

Rania Victor Bassil – Maronite – Jbeil

Nadim Shafiq Said – Maronite – Jbeil

Youssef Salameh – Maronite – Kesrouan

Josephine Zgheib – Maronite – Kesrouan

Dori Daou – Maronite – Kesrouan

Metn

George Rahbani – Greek Orthodox – Metn

Charbel Nahas – Greek Catholic – Metn

Victoria al-Khoury – Maronite – Metn

Adib Youssef Tohme – Maronite – Metn

Nadine Victor Moussa – Maronite – Metn

Emile Kanaan – Maronite – Metn

Baabda

Rania Masri – Druze

Marie Claude Helou – Maronite

Joseph Wanis – Maronite

Ziad Akl – Maronite

Ali Darwish – Shiite

Wassef al-Harakeh - Shiite

Chouf – Aley

Maher Abu Shakra – Druze – Chouf

Rania Gheith – Druze – Chouf

Antoine Habib Fawaz – Greek Catholic

Mazen Nasreddine – Sunni – Chouf

Mohammad Sami al-Hajjar – Sunni – Chouf

George Emile Aoun – Maronite – Chouf

Ghada Ghazi Marouni – Maronite – Chouf

Imad al-Qadi – Druze – Aley

Alaa al-Sayegh – Druze – Aley

Zawia Najib Jridini – Greek Orthodox – Aley

Carl Farid Bou Melhem – Maronite - Aley

 

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