Koura Heads to Heated By-election as SSNP's Azar Announces Candidacyإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
The northern district of Koura is likely to witness a tough electoral battle next month to fill the Greek Orthodox seat vacated by the death of Lebanese Forces MP Farid Habib in May.
The by-elections that are set to be held on July 15 will determine the orientation of the Koura residents in the parliamentary polls of 2013, deputy Speaker Farid Makari told An Nahar daily published Sunday.
Every eligible resident should take part in next month’s elections so that the March 14 forces emerge victorious, said Makari, who is a member of the March 14 opposition.
Syrian Social National Party member Walid al-Azar on Sunday officially announced that he will run in the by-election.
“We wanted to spare Koura the tensions that are spreading from an area to another, but this battle was imposed on us from outside Koura,” said Azar in a press conference.
He also charged that the candidacy of Lebanese Forces nominee Fadi Karam “happened following instructions from beyond the border.”
Later on Sunday, Karam hit back at Azar, accusing the SSNP of seeking to “isolate” Koura from the neighboring areas and stressing that he is not “imposed on Koura.”
“I’m not imposed on Koura because I’m the son of this town, and I am surprised by such a statement from the SSNP that claims to be a secular party, but aims to use the community and families of Koura as their barricade in order to isolate it from the region.”
Karam added: “They accuse the Lebanese Forces while they previously announced that they will clean Koura from intellectual pollution.”
“Is Charles Malek and the other intellectuals considered pollution? Are the residents who voted in 2009 for the national path polluting?” Karam wondered, pointing out that his competitor Azar “is looking for a pretext to lure Amyoun and the Koura area into an electoral battle that is far from democratic competition.”
Earlier this month, the opposition LF nominated Karam, who told An Nahar on Sunday that the battle is between the supporters of the March 8 majority coalition and the March 14 alliance. “We are sure that we are the strongest,” he said.
Makari also said during a press conference later Sunday that Karam will represent all factions in Koura.
"His victory is very important for our political program," he added.
Karam said in the same press conference that “there is no fear on Koura as long as March 14 continues to defend the dignity of every citizen.”
The March 8 SSNP said Saturday it would run Azar as its candidate. The party’s sources said it would fight the elections under the slogan of “Koura’s decision goes to the residents of Koura.”
The SSNP’s allies in Koura and northern Lebanon are committed to backing Azar, they told An Nahar. On Sunday, Azar said he enjoys the support of MP Michel Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement and MP Suleiman Franjieh’s Marada Movement.
Jean Jabr Mufarrej and Naim al-Ojaimi have also announced their candidacies for the by-elections.