Municipal Vote: Murr, Kataeb Triumph in Sin el-Fil, N. Metn as FPM Wins in Hadath, Clinches 14 Out of 18 Seats in Jouniehإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
The second round of the municipal elections was held Sunday in the Mount Lebanon district, amid claims of vote buying in the Keserouan region and security incidents in several areas.
The elections covered 325 municipalities amid heavy security measures that were taken by the security forces and the army. The polls were held in the main electoral districts of Baabda, Jbeil, Keserouan, Aley, Chouf, and Metn.
The Interior Ministry said that 45 municipalities had won uncontested.
Major battles took place in several towns in light of the failure of the Lebanese Forces and Free Patriotic Movement to strike an alliance in all regions.
At 6:00 pm, one hour prior to the closure of polls, voter turnout was 56.5% in Jbeil, 47.2% in Metn, 49.5% in Chouf, 58% in Keserouan, 50% in Aley and 42% in Baabda, according to the Interior Ministry.
According to Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq, voter turnout stood at 56 percent in the entire governorate.
"Six people were arrested – five over electoral bribery and the head of a polling station," Mashnouq announced at a press conference after the polls.
The first results emerged from the Baabda district town of Hadath, where the Free Patriotic Movement boasted that it won 70% of the vote.
In the city of Jbeil, incumbent municipal chief Ziad Hawat said his list won "more than 90% of the vote" in the face of a candidate who ran alone in the electoral battle. The candidate, Claude Marjeh, was nominated by the Citizens in a State secular campaign that is led by ex-minister Charbel Nahas.
Meanwhile, MP Michel Murr, who is influential in the Northern Metn region, said the lists that he backed along with the Kataeb Party had won the municipal polls in Sin el-Fil, Brummana, Beit Mery and Baabdat.
State-run National News Agency also confirmed that, according to early results, the list backed by Murr, Kataeb and some families had won in the face of a list fielded by the FPM and the Lebanese Forces in Sin el-Fil.
The Murr-Kataeb alliance also won in the majority of towns in Northern Metn, according to unofficial results.
And according to al-Jadeed television, a list backed by Hizbullah and AMAl Movement was leading by a landslide against a list formed by families and civil society activists in the Beirut southern suburb of Bourj al-Barajneh.
The most heated battle occurred in the coastal city of Jounieh where a list headed by Juan Hbeish and backed by the FPM, Kataeb Party, al-Waad Party, and National Liberal Party won 14 out of 18 seats in the municipal council.
The National News Agency identified the four members who managed to win from the rival list as Fadi Fayyad, Fouad al-Bouwari, Silvio Shiha and Rodrigue Finianos.
This list was headed by al-Bouwari and backed by influential ex-MPs Farid Haykal al-Khazen and Mansour Ghanem al-Bon, the Lebanese Forces, and the Maronite Foundation in the World.
FPM founder MP Michel Aoun had paid a visit to Jounieh on Saturday night in an attempt to motivate people to head to the polls and vote in favor of the list headed by Hbeish.
Change and Reform bloc MP Alain Aoun commented: “It is unfortunate that the LF decided to wage the electoral battle against us.”
During a visit to Jounieh's serail, Minister al-Mashnouq said he ordered the ejection of Juan Hbeish from a security meeting there "seeing as he is a candidate and should not be present in the meeting."
Mashnouq also revealed that four people have been arrested in the Keserouan towns of Yahshoush and Raashin on charges of paying electoral bribes.
Meanwhile, al-Jadeed television aired a video showing an apparent supporter of the list backed by the FPM and Kataeb paying $600 to one of its undercover correspondents after she convinced him that she could provide three votes for the list.
In the Beirut southern suburbs of Ghobeiri, Bourj al-Barajneh and Haret Hreik --- Baabda district strongholds of Hizbullah and the AMAL Movement -- the lists backed by the two parties and the FPM confronted lists backed by families and the civil society.
And in the coastal town of Choueifat in Aley district a heated battle occurred between rival lists backed by the Progressive Socialist Party of MP Walid Jumblat and the Lebanese Democratic Party of MP Talal Arslan.
MTV also spoke of a heated battle in al-Damour region south of Beirut, saying some 10,000 voters were registered in the area and that the turnout could reach 40 or 50 percent.
As for security, the Internal Security Forces said fifteen incidents had been recorded until the afternoon, resulting in the injury of at least five people.
Electoral brawls outside polling stations forced a temporary suspension of the electoral process in Naameh, Haret al-Naameh, Afqa, al-Laqlouq, Shbaniyeh and Tartej.
According to the interior minister, the ministry's Central Operations Center “replaced the head of the polling station in Jbeil's Tartej after three ballots were found in his pocket.”
Later in the day, Mashnouq inspected polling stations in the Beirut southern suburb of Ghobeiri, which is part of the Baabda district.
“The municipal polls are excellent in all regions and there are no significant security problems but rather democratic and normal competition,” Mashnouq said.
“Lebanon currently needs a president, not parliamentary elections,” he added, in response to a question.
Fistfights also erupted outside polling stations in Jbeil and Dahieh as a verbal dispute was recorded outside a Jbeil polling station between supporters of ex-minister Charbel Nahas and others who back the list headed by Ziad Hawat.
Later in the day, a woman from the Shamas family was injured in an armed clash in the Jbeil town of Mishan and the electoral process was suspended, which prompted the intervention of the army's Airborne Regiment.
Inside polling stations, two disputes were recorded in Jbeil, one in Metn, one in Chouf and two in Keserouan.
The Interior Ministry announced that citizens can contact the 1766 hotline to file any complaint linked to the polls.
The first round of the municipal polls were held in Beirut and the Bekaa region on May 8, while the third round, set for next Sunday, will be held in the South and Nabatiyeh, and the fourth and final round will be held in the North and Akkar on May 29.