Low turnout recorded in Tripoli as election is re-run

Supporters during an electoral rally in Beirut. (AFP)
Updated 15 April 2019

Low turnout recorded in Tripoli as election is re-run

  • Electoral observers expect Jamali to regain her seat, even though turnout has been low, failing to reach 6 percent until noon

BEIRUT: Turnout was calm in Tripoli on Sunday, as voters emerged to re-elect a Sunni deputy to the Lebanese Parliament.
Lebanon’s Constitutional Council annulled the election of Dima Jamali, of Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s Future Movement, two months ago. The council accepted the appeal of rival candidate Taha Naji against the May 2018 poll, and decided to re-run the vote.
Electoral observers expect Jamali to regain her seat, even though turnout has been low, failing to reach 6 percent until noon.
Young voter Najwa told Arab News that she would not vote “in protest against the city’s economic situation and also in protest against the political class that does not give importance to our worries.”
Future Movement official Mustafa Alloush told Arab News: “It is not expected for the turnout to exceed 10 percent — people are not looking forward to voting and many believe that there is no contest.
The competing candidates for the parliamentary seat are unconvincing to many.”
Eight candidates competed for the parliamentary seat, including Nizar Zakka, a current detainee in an Iranian prison for charges of espionage on behalf of the US, who announced his candidacy from prison in Tehran under the slogan “The Solution — Freedom for Lebanon.”
Many of Taha’s political allies, meanwhile, decided not to partake in protest at the decision of the council to re-run the election rather than declare their candidate the winner.
Interior Minister Raya Al-Hassan toured Tripoli during the buildup, and called on voters to use their “right to vote.” In a statement, she suggested that she did not mind who voters chose to back: “You can cast a blank vote. I am speaking as the Minister of Interior and not as a person affiliated with any party, and I am convinced that every person must participate in the elections.”
She added: “The turnout will definitely be different from previous years — there is no competitive battle, and a small number of voters.”
President Michel Aoun emphasized in a statement before the poll “The importance of providing the right atmosphere to complete the electoral process calmly, and providing all facilities for citizens to exercise their democratic right.”


Jordan criticizes Israel over Al-Aqsa Mosque changes

Updated 48 min 2 sec ago

Jordan criticizes Israel over Al-Aqsa Mosque changes

  • Palestinians welcomed the Jordanian position but expressed concerns over a decline of support for Amman’s custodianship of the holy places at Al-Aqsa

AMMAN: Jordan has stepped up its diplomatic pressure on Israel, demanding that they do not change the status quo at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Zaid Lozi, director-general of Jordan’s Foreign Ministry, summoned Israeli Ambassador to Jordan Amir Weissbrod to protest Israel’s actions in Jerusalem.

According to Petra News, Lozi told the envoy that recent remarks by Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Ardan over changing the status quo at Al-Aqsa Mosque are unacceptable. Lozi added that the mosque is a place of worship for Muslims only.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi addressed a group of EU ambassadors in Amman and “stressed the urgency of effective international steps against Israel’s violations of Holy Sites in occupied Jerusalem.”

Safadi told Arab News that the situation in Jerusalem is challenging and must be addressed. He said that he will present a detailed report on Jordan’s position to Parliament on Monday.

The ministry denounced the Israeli authorities’ closure of the mosque’s gates and demanded that Israel respects its obligations in accordance with international humanitarian law.

HIGHLIGHT

• Muslims insist that all 144,000 square meters of the UNESCO World Heritage Site are a single unit that has belonged to them for 11 centuries.

Hatem Abdel Qader, a member of the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, told Arab News that Israeli authorities had been attempting to enforce major changes at the mosque.

“Security forces barged into the mosque yesterday. They went to the Bab Al-Rahmeh Mosque where they confiscated carpets and the closet where shoes are kept.”

Jordan’s diplomatic statements follow comments by Ardan, who said that Israel is disappointed with the current state of affairs at Al-Aqsa Mosque.

According to Israeli officials, the mosque area is sovereign Israeli territory, despite it being administered by Jordan. Muslims insist that all 144,000 square meters of the UNESCO World Heritage Site are a single unit that has belonged to them for 11 centuries.

Qader said that Palestinians welcomed the Jordanian position but expressed concerns over a decline of support for Amman’s custodianship of the holy places at Al-Aqsa.

“There appears to have been a gradual deterioration of Arab and Islamic support to Jordan. It surprises me that Muslims have been quiet, perhaps they see an advantage if Jordan’s role is diminished? If true, this would be dangerous.”

Qader, a former minister in the Palestinian government and a current member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, told Arab News that Jordan’s position “guarantees continuation of the status quo.”