A look at the candidates in Lebanon (JERUSALEM POST) By ASSOCIATED PRESS BEIRUT, Lebanon 05/29/05)
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The prominent players in the Lebanese parliamentary elections,
scheduled to begin Sunday and run through three following Sundays:
Saad Hariri: Son of slain former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The 35-
year-old Sunni Muslim businessman was chosen by the Hariri family to
assume his father´s political mantle after the Feb. 14 bombing that
killed the former prime minister. Saad Hariri is running for his
father´s seat in Beirut. Analysts predict a strong showing, perhaps
with his Future Movement emerging with control of the biggest bloc in
the 128-member legislature.
Walid Jumblatt: Political leader of the minority Druse sect, a
secretive offshoot of Islam, has already won an uncontested seat in
the central region of Mount Lebanon. The 55-year-old warlord-turned-
politician was a strong ally of Syria until the Hariri assassination,
when he made an about-face, becoming a prominent anti-Syrian.
Jumblatt, who heads the Progressive Socialist Party, is a close ally
of Saad Hariri. The allies are likely to muster a majority in
Michel Aoun: Christian anti-Syrian opposition leader who returned
this month from 14 years in exile in France. Aoun, 69, fled Lebanon
after Syria defeated his forces in 1989. Aoun, a former army
commander, broke with his Muslim and Christian opposition allies and
his Free Patriotic Movement is forging its own election alliances. He
is running for a Maronite Catholic seat in Mount Lebanon.
Hizbullah: The Shiite Muslim Hezbollah guerrilla group, backed by
Iran and Syria, enjoys strong nationalist credentials after years of
fighting the Israelis. It seeks to strengthen its political role
under international pressure for its armed wing to disarm. Hezbollah
and one-time rival Amal have presented a joint slate predicted to
dominate returns in south Lebanon and the eastern Bekaa Valley.
Hezbollah also is allying itself with anti-Syrian opposition forces
in other regions of the country.
Nabih Berri: A staunch Syrian ally, Berri, 67, has been parliament
speaker since 1992, helping carry out Syrian policy in Lebanon. A
former warlord, Berri heads the Shiite Amal movement which joined
Hezbollah´s battle against Israel.
Samir Geagea: Jailed Christian opposition leader and head of the
Lebanese Forces, the main Christian militia during the 1975-90 civil
war that was outlawed in 1994. The 55-year-old Geagea is serving
three life sentences for the assassination of political rivals. Calls
for his release have increased. His Lebanese Forces party is fielding
candidates in Christian regions with opposition tickets.
Suleiman Franjieh: Grandson of late president Suleiman Franjieh who
invited Syrian forces into Lebanon in 1976 to help stop civil war.
Staunch pro-Syrian, the young Franjieh served as interior minister in
the last government under Syrian control earlier this year. The
Maronite Catholic is running for a seat in the north.
A look at the voting in Lebanese elections
At stake: All 128 seats in Parliament. The legislature is divided
equally between Christians and Muslims, with most of the 18 sects
getting a slice.
Four stages: Elections will be held on four consecutive Sundays in
different parts of the country. Voting starts Sunday in Beirut,
followed by south Lebanon on June 5; central Mount Lebanon and the
eastern Bekaa Valley on June 12; and north Lebanon on June 19.
Already decided: A total of 17 seats have been won uncontested
because there were no challengers, including nine in Beirut, six in
the south and two in central Lebanon. (© 1995-2005, The Jerusalem
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