BEIRUT: With the candidacy deadline for the Lebanese parliamentary elections ending on Tuesday at midnight, over 875 applications had been submitted as of Tuesday afternoon.
Lebanese Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi said that work is underway “to secure IDs and personal status extracts, and all other voter needs.
“We are working to secure electricity during the voting process and until the sorting of ballots ends.”
The elections are scheduled to be held on May 15 amid a severe economic collapse that Lebanon has been enduring for two years and the possibility of the country slipping into further deterioration in the coming months.
According to Mawlawi, 7,000 polling stations will be allocated throughout Lebanon.
Meanwhile, Fouad Siniora has become the latest former premier to announce that he will not be running in the elections.
In January, former premier Saad Hariri announced his withdrawal from political life, expressing his conviction that “there is no room for any positive opportunity for Lebanon in light of the Iranian influence, international confusion, national division, rise of sectarian tensions, and the deterioration of the state.”
Hariri had also instructed members of the Future Movement, which he heads, to not contest the elections under the movement’s name, but he did not call on his supporters to boycott them.
Former premier Tammam Salam and the current Prime Minister Najib Mikati also announced that they will not stand along with Lebanon’s former ambassador to the UN, Nawaf Salam, who is currently a permanent member of the International Court of Justice in The Hague.
Siniora told a press conference: “My decision not to run for the elections does not mean that I will be boycotting; on the contrary, I hope my position makes room for the new generation. I will be fully invested in the elections in all their aspects, without running for office.”
He urged citizens to turn out to vote “so as not to allow opportunists to gain ground amid calls not to participate in this national duty.”
According to sources close to Siniora, he is seeking “to prevent Hezbollah from penetrating the Sunni environment, through Sunni figures close to the axis of resistance led by Hezbollah, the strategic ally of Iran.”
Siniora said: “I call on our people in Beirut, Sidon, the north, the Bekaa Valley, Mount Lebanon, and all over Lebanon to participate in these elections.
“The Lebanese people’s uprising showed us the need to renew political blood, support promising faces, and facilitate the way for experts who had not been given the chance to serve the nation.”
Dar Al-Fatwa, Lebanon’s highest Sunni religious authority, said it would not interfere with the elections, adding that it will neither support a candidate nor a list.
“Our role is limited to advising people to choose the best candidate for the state-building project and strengthening the unity of the Islamic ranks based on national foundations,” Dar Al-Fatwa said.
With Hariri’s withdrawal from political life, Siniora has been trying to fill the void in the Sunni community. However, the Future Movement is not pleased with his actions and is even accusing him of treason.
Meanwhile, Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt tweeted on Tuesday: “In this suffocating social and economic crisis that Lebanon is experiencing, we are paying for the Arab countries abandoning us. We are reaping the fruits of the petty and absurd statements made by senior leaders against the Gulf,” in reference to briefings from Hezbollah leaders about the Gulf states in recent months.