Lebanon's new election law unlikely to upset balance of power

07/05 15:53Lebanon Preliminary Election Results Show Victory of Hezbollah, Allies - Reports

Lebanon's new election law unlikely to upset balance of power

Unofficial results showed Iran-backed Hezbollah and its political allies won just over half the seats in Lebanon's election.

Lebanon's first parliamentary vote in nine years was held on Sunday, with over 500 candidates vying for seats.

It is designated a terrorist group by Western states and Israel, with which it fought a war in 2006, and several of its members are accused of being behind the 2005 assassination of Mr Hariri's father Rafik - himself a former Lebanese prime minister.

Saudi Arabia started to reduce its long-term support for Hariri when Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman summoned him to Riyadh last November and ordered him to resign, after complaining Hariri had not done enough to confront Hezbollah.

The Syrians and Iranians are beaming, no doubt, but they probably still have to deal with Hariri, who will likely remain prime minister, because under the constitution the PM doesn't need to control a large bloc in parliament in order to hold the top office. "His ability to substantially tame or restrain Hezbollah.in Lebanon is going to be very limited".

"Today, we have in front of us a new stage, we have in front of us many challenges".

Almost every Lebanese person CNN spoke to before the election said they had little hope in politicians' ability to tackle the country's litany of economic and security woes.

Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Hariri has acknowledged that his parliamentary bloc lost seats in this week's elections, blaming it on a new electoral law and a performance "that wasn't up to the standard".

The results will dismay not only Saudi Arabia.

Lebanon's unique brand of sectarian-driven, power-sharing politics mean rival factions often end up in the same government, as is the case now where Hezbollah is represented in Hariri's cabinet.

Air France workers tear up another executive
After negotiations reached deadlock, Janaillac called a vote last Friday, the results of which went against him. Janaillac will meet with the Air France-KLM and Air France boards May 9 to submit his resignation .

The security presence was heavy around polling stations from early in the day and a Reuters witness saw a long military column of armoured vehicles and other troop carriers driving slowly into the capital.

Polling stations closed after 12 hours of voting that were marred only by minor incidents and were marked by what provisional estimates suggested was a low turnout.

The prime minister stressed that he was an ally of Lebanese President Michel Aoun, who is a central figure in the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) Christian party, though the differences with the Hezbollah Shiite party, a longtime ally of the FPM, would remain.

Mr Hariri blamed the reduced turnout on the complexities of the new electoral law.

Some 49 percent of eligible voters turned out, according to the unofficial results of Sunday's election, the first poll conducted under the new proportional representation system and the first election since 2009.

As Hariri entered a public school in Beirut to vote, a woman in a wheelchair complained that polling stations were not equipped for disabled voters.

If confirmed by the final count, this result would boost Hezbollah politically, with parties and individuals aligned with the heavily armed group securing a simple majority in parliament.

Hariri has called for the formation of a new government to be agreed on quickly, saying that speedy reforms are needed to reduce state debt and persuade Western donors to release $11 billion in aid and soft loans that were pledged in April at a conference in Paris.

"Hezbollah = Lebanon", Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett said on Twitter.

Hezbollah, which was created in the 1980s to fight against Israel and now battles in Syria alongside regime forces, is listed as a terror organisation by the United States.

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