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A look at the candidates in Lebanon (JERUSALEM POST) By ASSOCIATED PRESS BEIRUT, Lebanon 05/29/05)Source: http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1117247288834 JERUSALEM POST JERUSALEM POST Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
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 Parliament.

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 Post 05/29/05)

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