Sunday, August 05, 2007

Siniora Government loses Key Election in Lebanon

Today,elections were held in Lebanon for two parliamentary seats to replace two assassinated ruling party lawmakers in a showdown between the US-backed Siniora government and the opposition, supported by Syria and Iran.

Votes were held to replace Pierre Gemayel, a Christian who was shot dead in November, and Walid Eido, a Sunni Muslim killed in a Beirut car bomb in June. Both were supporters of the Siniora government and major oponents of Syria and Hezbollah, which of course was why they were murdered. Gemayel was also a cabinet minister, and a favorite to run for the office of Lebanon's next president before he was put out of the picture.

One vote was held in the Metn region, a Marronite Christian stronghold just northeast of Beirut. Interestingly enough, the government's candidate was Amin Gemayel, a former president from 1982-88 was running to try and capture his murdered son Pierre's seat against Kamil Khoury, who was supported by interim Prime Minister Michael Aoun, a major ally of Syriaa and Hezbollah.

At the end of the vote, Lebanese Interior Minister Hassan Sabei annonced that Khoury had only 418 votes, about or about 1/2 per cent of the 78,000 votes cast.Needless to say, Gamayel is alleging fraud and has refused to concede so far.

The government backed candidate won the other seat in a Sunni area of Beirut handily..partly because the pro-Syria opposition concentrated on the Metn area and didn't really field a candidate.

This whittles Siniora's majority in parliament down to a shaky 3 seats.

It's a fairly significant victory for Michael Aoun, who's planning on running for president this year when pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud steps down November 23rd.
Replacing the two murdered legislators took so long because Lahoud, a major foe of Siniora refused to authorize new elections until now.

The Siniora government is still essentially beseiged by Hezbollah and other Syrian allies in Beirut, and as I've reported here previously,the Syrians have already made a major encrouchment into Lebanon and fortified a defensive position in the Bek'aa Valley, one of Hezbollah's strongholds.

Of course, neither UNIFIL or the UN is saying anything about this blatant disregard for UN Security Council Resolution 1709.

The Syrians realize that the US would probably not stand for an invasion of Lebanon, at least while President Bush is still in office.But if Syria and Iran take over the country through Lebanese puppets...well, that would probably be a different matter.

No comments: