Lebanon’s ruling parties announce candidates for parliamentary elections

Special Lebanon’s ruling parties announce candidates for parliamentary elections
A woman displays her ink-stained index finger after voting at a polling station in Beirut, Lebanon, May 6, 2018. (AFP)
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Updated 03 March 2022

Lebanon’s ruling parties announce candidates for parliamentary elections

Lebanon’s ruling parties announce candidates for parliamentary elections
  • The cost of holding elections is estimated at $15.5 million
  • Nearly 3.97 million voters will partake in the upcoming ballot, including about 225,000 overseas voters 

BEIRUT: Lebanese parties have been rushing to submit their candidacies for the upcoming parliamentary elections to the Ministry of Interior with the deadline for registration, March 15, soon approaching.

Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, 84, submitted his candidacy application for another four-year parliamentary session, alongside ruling party members.

Applications were previously limited to independent candidates and representatives of the civil movement.

The number of registered candidates jumped to nearly 100 as of Wednesday evening, with expectations for more candidacies soon.

On May 15, voters will vote for their 128 MPs, which will be preceded by civil servants who are working on the elections voting on May 12.

On May 6 and 8, Lebanese voters living abroad will cast their votes.

The cost of holding the elections is estimated at $15.5 million.

The electoral battle will kick-off in earnest in April when registration for the lists under which the candidates will run begins.

Political jostling and heightened engagement is expected once alliances unravel and the battle to prevent the ruling parties from gaining parliamentary majority starts.

Around 3,970,000 voters will partake in the upcoming elections, including some 225,000 voters living abroad, most of whom are expected to vote for representatives from the Oct. 17, 2019 revolution.

Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah announced some of the party’s candidates on Wednesday evening, with some “young generation candidates” adding to the crop of currently sitting MPs.

The Amal Movement is expected to announce the names of its candidates in the coming days. According to leaked information, Berri will retain a sizable portion of the current MPs, especially those who are being prosecuted for crimes surrounding the Beirut port explosion.

Secretary-General of the Arab Socialist Baath Party Ali Hijazi submitted his candidacy to run in the Baalbek-Hermel district.

This party is considered an extension of the Baath Party in Syria. Hijazi was recently elected as secretary-general, and he is considered an ally of Hezbollah and the Syrian regime.

The Lebanese Forces Party continues to announce the names of its candidates in party festivals, while the Free Patriotic Movement is working to finalize its candidates’ list. Meanwhile, the Progressive Socialist Party is yet to announce its candidates, with party head Walid Jumblatt quoted as saying that political conditions are not suitable to make any changes in his parliamentary bloc.

Small parties are awaiting news of agreements and understandings between major powers to determine their place in the electoral lists.

Hezbollah is seeking to consolidate its alliance with the Amal Movement in all electoral districts and is also hoping to ally with the FPM in every district where it can convince its voters to support the movement.

However, confusion still prevails on the Sunni scene, as the head of the Future Movement, Saad Hariri, announced his withdrawal from political life and asked party members not to run for the upcoming elections under the movement’s name.

Some Future Movement supporters vowed to boycott the elections, while others demanded that the movement resumes its work and does not leave the political arena to Hezbollah and its allies.

Several traditional political leaders in the Sunni community announced that they would not run for elections, including former Prime Minister Tammam Salam, while former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora insisted on not boycotting the elections.

A source from the Future Movement told Arab News: “Some believe we need to remain outside the system since neither our presence nor our absence can make a difference; the proof is how Hariri was stabbed in the back by all ruling parties.

“In addition, Hezbollah would have no Sunni cover for any of its figures if we boycott the elections.”

The source added: “Others think that boycotting the elections would allow other parties to disrupt Sunni political unity.

“We need to have a limited number of candidates and we must vote extensively and effectively.

“They insist that since Hariri never asked us to boycott the elections, we should not make such hasty decisions, especially since most of the state institutions are not yet constitutionally controlled by Hezbollah.

“We must stop talking about treason, this is what serves Lebanon best.”

A source in Dar Al-Fatwa, the country’s highest Sunni religious authority, expressed concern that Sunni votes could end up dispersed amid this confusion.

“We have concerns about Sunni religious parties succeeding in filling the void, especially if they do not adhere to the logic of the state and tend to adopt the logic of militias,” they told Arab News on condition of anonymity.

Civil society candidates were among the first to submit their candidacies, albeit timidly.

However, this civil movement, with all its groups, has not yet finalized its candidacies or broadcast which districts it plans to fight the ruling parties.

Election expert Walid Fakhreddine said: “There are a large number of candidates in all regions, especially those in which Hezbollah’s alliances prevail. Announcing candidacies was delayed in order to finish negotiations; this is not necessarily a bad thing.”

Fakhreddine stressed: “Candidacies have been delayed because the election law requires each candidate to pay 30 million Lebanese pounds ($20,000), nonrefundable should they choose to withdraw their candidacy.

“In addition, candidates are facing issues in opening bank accounts for electoral campaigns in accordance with the law, and work is underway to resolve this before March 15.”


El-Sisi: ‘Terrorism among greatest challenges facing humanity’

El-Sisi: ‘Terrorism among greatest challenges facing humanity’
Updated 6 sec ago

El-Sisi: ‘Terrorism among greatest challenges facing humanity’

El-Sisi: ‘Terrorism among greatest challenges facing humanity’
  • Egyptian president was speaking at BRICS Summit
  • ‘Terrorism violates the basic rights of citizens, foremost of which is the right to life’

CAIRO: Terrorism remains among the greatest challenges facing humanity,” Egypt’s president said during his speech at a summit in Beijing that brought together Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Abdel Fattah El-Sisi praised “the BRICS group’s keenness to adopt a common vision toward political and economic issues of interest to developing countries, especially with regard to exploring prospects for development cooperation and support for development financing.”

He added: “The efforts focused on addressing the repercussions of the current economic crisis should not come at the expense of supporting sustainable development in the least developed and developing countries, countries that still suffer from a lack of development financing.”

El-Sisi said: “Achieving development goals must come in parallel with all international efforts to address traditional and non-traditional challenges, top of which are the issues of terrorism and climate change.”

He added: “The phenomenon of terrorism violates the basic rights of citizens, foremost of which is the right to life, and hinders the efforts of governments toward achieving the economic and social goals of their people.”

He said: “Egypt stresses the need to adopt a comprehensive approach that includes various dimensions to dry up the sources of terrorism and prevent the provision of funding, safe havens and media platforms for terrorist organizations, as well as addressing the economic and social conditions and factors that push some to extremism and joining terrorist groups.”

Egypt previously participated as a guest in the BRICS Summit hosted by China in September 2017.


Turkey re-evaluating death penalty after Erdogan’s wildfires comment — minister

Turkey re-evaluating death penalty after Erdogan’s wildfires comment — minister
Updated 25 June 2022

Turkey re-evaluating death penalty after Erdogan’s wildfires comment — minister

Turkey re-evaluating death penalty after Erdogan’s wildfires comment — minister
  • Capital punishment was struck from the constitution in the early years of Erdogan's rule
  • After a suspected deliberate blaze destroyed 4,500 hectares of Aegean coastal forest, Erdogan said tougher justice was needed

ISTANBUL: Turkey will reconsider a 2004 decision to abolish capital punishment, the justice minister said on Saturday, after President Tayyip Erdogan raised the death penalty in connection with the cause of this week’s wildfires.
Capital punishment was struck from the constitution in the early years of Erdogan’s rule. But after a suspected deliberate blaze destroyed 4,500 hectares (11,119 acres) of Aegean coastal forest, Erdogan said tougher justice was needed.
Authorities have said that a suspect detained in connection with the fire has admitted to causing it. The blaze, in woodland near the resort of Marmaris, has been contained, authorities said on Saturday.
After visiting the scene on Friday, Erdogan said the punishment for burning forests should be “intimidating, and if that’s a death sentence, it’s a death sentence.”
Speaking to reporters in the eastern town of Agri on Saturday, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said the president’s comments “are instructions to us.”
“We have started working on it as the ministry,” Bozdag said, adding that the current punishment for starting wildfires was 10 years in prison, rising to a possible life sentence if part of organized crime.
The country’s first big blaze of the summer began on Tuesday and conjured memories of last year’s fires which ravaged 140,000 hectares of countryside, the worst on record.
Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said on Thursday that the detained suspect had admitted to burning down the forest out of frustration due to family issues.
Local officials told Reuters in recent days that authorities lacked the necessary equipment and personnel for another summer of fires.
On Friday, Forestry Minister Vahit Kirisci said 88 percent of forest fires in Turkey were started by people.


Groups in Spain and Morocco push for border deaths inquiry

Groups in Spain and Morocco push for border deaths inquiry
Updated 25 June 2022

Groups in Spain and Morocco push for border deaths inquiry

Groups in Spain and Morocco push for border deaths inquiry
  • The Moroccan Human Rights Association reported 27 dead but the figure could not immediately be confirmed
  • APDHA, a human rights group based in Andalusia, and a joint statement released by five rights organizations in Morocco also called for inquiries

MADRID: Human rights organizations in Spain and Morocco have called on both countries to investigate the deaths of at least 18 Africans and injuries suffered by dozens more who attempted to scale the border fence that surrounds Melilla, a Spanish enclave in North Africa.
Moroccan authorities said the casualties occurred when a “stampede” of people tried to climb the iron fence that separates Melilla and Morocco. In a statement released Friday, Morocco’s Interior Ministry said 76 civilians were injured along with 140 Moroccan security officers.
Local authorities cited by Morocco’s official MAP news agency said the death toll increased to 18 after several migrants died in the hospital. The Moroccan Human Rights Association reported 27 dead, but the figure could not immediately be confirmed.
The association also shared videos on social media that appeared to show dozens of migrants lying on the ground, many of them motionless and a few bleeding, as Moroccan security forces stood over them.
“They were left there without help for hours, which increased the number of deaths,” the human rights group said on Twitter. It called for a “comprehensive” investigation.
In another of the association’s videos, a Moroccan security officer appeared to use a baton to strike a person lying on the ground.
In a statement released late Friday, Amnesty International expressed its “deep concern” over the events at the border.
“Although the migrants may have acted violently in their attempt to enter Melilla, when it comes to border control, not everything goes,” Esteban Beltrán, the director of Amnesty International Spain, said. “The human rights of migrants and refugees must be respected and situations like that seen cannot happen again.”
APDHA, a human rights group based in the southern Spanish region of Andalusia, and a joint statement released by five rights organizations in Morocco also called for inquiries.
A spokesperson for the Spanish government’s office in Melilla said that around 2,000 people had attempted to make it across the border fence but were stopped by Spanish Civil Guard Police and Moroccan forces on either side of the border fence. A total 133 migrants made it across the border.


Iranian girl, 4, dies after being left in car under summer sun

Iranian girl, 4, dies after being left in car under summer sun
Updated 25 June 2022

Iranian girl, 4, dies after being left in car under summer sun

Iranian girl, 4, dies after being left in car under summer sun
  • Parents forgot the girl due to ‘stress’ about the funeral they were attending

LONDON: A 4-year-old Iranian girl has died after her parents left her in their car for hours while they attended a funeral service, local government officials reported.

The child, whose forename Sadia has been released, traveled with her family to Ramhormoz, a city in the east of the country, as temperatures hit 49 degrees Celsius.

Her parents allegedly left her in the car for the entire service because she fell asleep on the way to the funeral.

Local media reported that they forgot about her because they were “stressed” about the funeral.

Dr. Gholamreza Haidarnejad, from the city’s forensics department, said Sadia died from heat stroke and suffocation, which was complicated by stress. A police investigation has been launched.


EU’s Borrell says Iran nuclear talks to resume in coming days

EU’s Borrell says Iran nuclear talks to resume in coming days
Updated 25 June 2022

EU’s Borrell says Iran nuclear talks to resume in coming days

EU’s Borrell says Iran nuclear talks to resume in coming days
  • France urged Tehran to take advantage of Borrell’s visit to restore the pact while it remained possible

DUBAI: Talks on reviving the Iran nuclear deal will resume in the coming days, the European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Saturday during a visit to Tehran.
“We will resume the talks on the JCPOA in the coming days,” Borrell told a news conference in the Iranian capital, referring to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. 

Borrell met Iran’s top diplomat on Saturday, Iranian state TV reported, as the bloc seeks to break an impasse between Tehran and Washington over reinstating a nuclear pact.
The United States said earlier in June it was awaiting a constructive response from Iran on reviving the 2015 deal — under which Iran restricted its nuclear program in return for relief from economic sanctions — without “extraneous” issues.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian last week called on Washington, which exited the deal and then imposed crippling sanctions on Tehran during the Trump administration in 2018, to “be realistic.”
It appeared on the brink of revival in March when the EU, which is coordinating negotiations, invited ministers to Vienna to seal it after 11 months of indirect talks between Tehran and President Joe Biden’s administration.
But the talks have since been bogged down, chiefly over Tehran’s insistence that Washington remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), its elite security force, from the US Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) list.
Two officials, one Iranian and one European, told Reuters ahead of Borrell’s trip that “two issues including one on sanctions remained to be resolved,” comments that Iran’s foreign ministry has neither denied nor confirmed.
France, a party to the deal, on Friday urged Tehran to take advantage of Borrell’s visit to restore the pact while it remained possible.