Lebanese opposition confident

10/01/2019 Posted by admin

Official results won’t be published until Monday, but the bloc is predicting it will win the 21 seats it needs out of the 28 up for grabs in the voting in northern Lebanon.

The alliance is headed by Saad Hariri, son of assassinated former prime minister Rafiq Hariri.

If confirmed, the outcome would give the 35-year-old businessman the opportunity of becoming prime minister, following in the footsteps of his father who held the post five times.

But it’s unlikely his alliance will clinch the two-thirds majority required to change Lebanon’s constitution.

If this did occur, analysts say the alliance would move quickly to fire pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud, who has more than two years in office left after a controversial Damascus-inspired extension last September.

The ballot, staggered over four weekends, is the first for three decades with no Syrian military presence, after Damascus pulled its troops out in April.

Its troops were stationed in Lebanon under the accord that ended a 15-year civil war in 1989.

The Syrian withdrawal was sparked by the February assassination of Mr Hariri –which most Lebanese and the international community blame on Syria.

About 700,000 people in two northern constituencies were eligible to vote on Sunday, with voter turn-out reaching 48 per cent.

Opposing Saad Hariri for seats in the 128-seat house was an unlikely alliance between Christian firebrand and former exile Michel Aoun and a raft of pro-Syrian figures.

In a bitter campaign, both sides had repeatedly attacked each other’s anti-Syrian credentials, with Mr Aoun accusing Mr Hariri and his allies of being belated converts to the cause, while they took aim at his pro-Damascus allies.

Mr Hariri’s huge personal fortune also fanned allegations of vote buying.

A clear-cut election outcome was likely to provide a major boost for a country which could ill afford an extended period of uncertainty.

The turmoil following Mr Hariri’s murder further dented confidence in an economy burdened with a massive $US35b ($A46b) debt.

Last week the country’s central bank warned it expected gross domestic product to fall this year, with inflation of four pc outstripping growth of two pc.

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