Political fight leads to shots fired in Choueifat neighborhood

One person was killed during a political fight between two young men Tuesday in a neighborhood in Choueifat.

The two men are members of opposing political parties and clashed on electoral backgrounds, the Lebanese National News Agency reported.

The clash led to shots fired with a machine gun, NNA reported.

“Security forces rushed to the clash scene and worked on solving it to prevent further escalation,” NNA added. “The joint committees of the two parties also intervened to end the clash.”

The clash involved two young men from the Lebanese Democratic Party and Progressive Socialist Party.

It is not clear who was killed and if anyone was arrested.

Minister Taymour Jumblatt warned that political clashes are unnecessary and unacceptable.

“Beware, comrades. You are not allowed to be dragged into sedition, and will not let strife infiltrate into the one house,” Jumblatt told NNA. “(We urge for) restraint in order to preserve our youth and their lives, regardless of the party they belong to.”

Lebanon’s parliamentary elections were held Sunday.

LBC television truck stolen outside of Baalbeck hotel

A satellite truck belonging to a Lebanese television station was stolen Saturday outside of a hotel in Baalbeck, one day before the Lebanese parliamentary elections.

The truck was parked outside of the Kanaan Group Hotel in the Ras Al Ain area when it was taken by an unidentified group of people, the Lebanese National News Agency reported.

The photo shows a similar satellite truck that was stolen, but does not belong to LBC.
The photo shows a similar satellite truck that was stolen, but does not belong to LBC.

The satellite truck is used for remote field production, typically to cover live television news events from a mobile location. It features a large satellite used to transmit a live feed back to the LBC central studio.

LBCI, the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation International, is one of the largest privately-owned television stations in Lebanon. The studios are located in Adma wa Dafneh, in the Keserwan District.

 

Power-players to watch in the Lebanese parliamentary elections

As Lebanon prepares for its first parliamentary elections in nine years Sunday, 3.6 million registered Lebanese voters are expected to cast their ballots. Thousands of Lebanese expats voted last week.

Here are several key power-players that could influence the country’s direction for years to come.

Future Movement

Future Movement Lebanon

Prime Minister Saad Hariri is the leader of the Lebanese Future Movement Party, founded in the 1990’s by his father, Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, who was assassinated in 2005.

Hariri, a Sunni Muslim politician, holds Saudi citizenship and is intensely critical of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah group.

The Future Movement could be impacted by the new electoral law, which could fragment the Sunni vote and cost them key parliamentary seats.

Free Patriotic Movement

Free Patriotic Movement Lebanon

Founded by President Michel Aoun, this group has allied with Hezbollah since signing a memorandum of understanding in 2006.

The Free Patriotic Movement, which is mostly Maronite Catholic, currently has the second largest bloc in parliament.

The group is likely to gain significant support from Shi’ite Muslims who turn out.

Hezbollah

Hezbollah Lebanon

This Shi’ite Muslim group was founded in 1982 as a resistance movement to the Israeli occupation of parts of Lebanon. They are backed by Iran and Syria.

Parliamentary candidates are likely to turn out a large number of Shi’ite Muslim voters, and some Christians who supports its record of fighting Israel.

Hezbollah currently holds 12 seats in the Lebanese parliament, and is expected to keep close to the same number, analysts say.

Amal Movement

Amal Movement Lebanon

Amal, a Shi’ite Muslim group, was founded in the 1980’s by Imam Moussa al-Sadr, who went missing in Libya in the late 1970’s.

The group is led by Lebanon’s parliamentary speaker, Nabih Berri, who has held his position for 25 years.

Amal has a strong alliance with Syria, and runs jointly with other Lebanese Syrian-backed parties and Hezbollah.

Progressive Socialist Party

progressive socialist party lebanon

This group is the main political party of Lebanon’s Druze community, which makes up just 5 percent of the country’s population.

Druze politician Walid Jumblatt heads the group, and is stepping aside to make room for his son Taymour to take his seat.

The group has many candidates running in unity with the Future Movement and other Christian right-wing groups.

Lebanese Forces

Lebanese Forces Lebanon

The Lebanese Forces group is a right-wing Christian political party that is a harsh critic of Hezbollah and its rival, the mostly-Christian Free Patriotic Movement.

Former Christian warlord Samir Geagea leads the group.

Lebanese Forces is one of the most organized and strongest Christian groups int eh country, and is expected to win several seats in the parliamentary elections.

Civil Society

Flag of Lebanon

The Civil Society includes many non-traditional, independent candidates that are hoping to garner the support of young people and Lebanese citizens who disapprove of the current political system.

Many women, activists and independents are running in these elections.

They may not garner much support in this election because of the strength of the establishment political parties, but many of them are just fine with sharing their platforms for a better Lebanon.

Lebanese expat voter turnout reaches 59 percent, government says

The turnout rate for Lebanese expats who voted Sunday in the Lebanese parliamentary elections reached 59 percent, according to Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil.

In a Monday news conference, Bassil said the turnout was high and reflected the “enthusiasm and interest of the Lebanese community abroad.”

According to the state-run National News Agency, the total cost of the electoral process reached about $1.5 million. Elections were held in 39 countries.

“Elections were held under the administrative supervision of the Ministry of Interior; there was a lot of cooperation between the Foreign and Interior ministries,” Bassil said. “I think there has never been such a remarkable vote in Lebanon’s history, with such transparency.”

He announced the following voter turnout rates abroad:

  • 58% in Austrailia
  • 59.5% in Europe
  • 68% in Africa
  • 45% in Latin America
  • 55% in the United States
  • 69% in Arab countries.

Voting inside Lebanon will be held next Sunday.

READ MORE: Lebanese Americans vote in parliamentary elections

Lebanese Americans vote in parliamentary elections

Lebanese Americans began voting Sunday in the first parliamentary elections held by Lebanon in nine years. The historic occasion marks the first time Lebanese citizens are allowed to vote abroad.

Sunday’s vote in 33 countries comes two days after Lebanese expatriates voted in six Arab countries.

According to the state-run Lebanese National News Agency, 82,970 Lebanese expatriates are registered to vote around the world. Australia has the largest number of registered voters with 11,826.

Canada has 11,438, followed by the United States with about 10,000, the news agency added.

lebanese americans vote in parliamentary elections in detroit michigan 4

Metro Detroit, home to one of the largest populations of Lebanese Americans in the U.S., established three polling locations in Michigan for expatriates to vote. Registration was required in advance, officials said.

The Detroit Consulate, which handles consular duties for 13 other states, also established one polling location in Ohio, one location in Minnesota and one in Illinois.

lebanese americans vote in parliamentary elections in detroit michigan 2

Voting inside Lebanon will be held next Sunday.

According to the Consulate, Lebanese citizens eligible to vote need to bring a Lebanese ID, a valid Lebanese passport or a recently renewed or issued temporary passport.

In South America, thousands of Lebanese citizens are also expected to cast their ballots Sunday. Leila Smidi, a mother of four living in Brazil, said she feels closer to her native land after voting.

“Today’s voting is very important because for the first time we will have a voice in Lebanese affairs,” Smidi, who has lived in Brazil for 11 years, told the Associated Press.

Lebanon’s current legislature has extended its own term several times, citing security threats in Syria.

WATCH: How Lebanese Expatriates Vote:

Political ads on a Lebanese talk show can cost up to $240,000!

As Lebanon gears up for its first parliamentary elections in 9 years, candidates are spending big money on their last-minute push to garner recognition and get people out to vote.

According to the AFP news agency, advertising on a single Lebanese talk show episode can cost up to $240,000. This includes a full episode where a candidate can present their plans and ideas.

An on-air interview can cost about $6,000 per minute, the AFP added.

Laury Haytayan, a parliamentary candidate in the Beirut I district, believes the high-cost of advertising gives political power-players an unfair advantage.

“The people who can pay $200,000 for advertising are those who are already in power,” Haytayan said. “The traditional parties remain control.”

See also: Historic number of female candidates running in the Lebanese election.

According to the Lebanese National News Agency, the parliamentary elections are already showing historic numbers. This will be the first time Lebanese citizens abroad will be eligible to vote.

The state-run agency said the number of registered voters is 82,970, with 12,609 living in the Middle East.

To see more on the AFP report on political advertising in Lebanon, click here.

Record number of women running in Lebanese parliamentary elections

A total of 111 women are running for office in Lebanon’s parliamentary elections, according to the state-run Lebanese National News Agency. This is up from 12 from the last time nationwide elections were held back in 2009.

There are 976 total candidates running for 128 parliamentary seats.

Among the 111 female candidates are high-profile journalist Paula Yaacoubian, activist Nayla Geagea and lawyer Nadine Moussa.

female-candidates-lebanon

Many of the Lebanon’s youth hope that more female candidates and elected officials can ignite change in the Lebanese political system. Only three percent of Lebanon’s parliament is made up of women, NNA added.

The election is set for May 6, but early voting is already happening around the world. Lebanese citizens living in the Middle East, United States, Australia and Europe are scheduled to vote from April 27 to April 29.

Trump: U.S. is proud of ‘close ties’ with Lebanese people

President Donald Trump praised countries who pledged to help Lebanon, and expressed ‘close ties’ between the U.S. and Lebanese people, according to a White House statement.

The statement was issued on the heels of the CEDRE conference in Paris, held earlier in April to support Lebanon’s development and reform efforts.

“I commend the government of Lebanon’s progress, under the leadership of Prime Minister Sa’ad Hariri, to address these pressing challenges,” the White House said in a statement. “The United States is proud of our close ties with the Lebanese people, and stands in support of Lebanon’s efforts to strengthen its legitimate state institutions.”

International donors pledged $11 billion in loans and grants to support Lebanon’s economy, officials said. Trump said he believes Lebanon has hope for a better future.

“Lebanon is a country facing countless challenges, including an unprecedented influx of refugees and the corrosive influence of Iran and Hezbollah,” the statement added. “But as we can see from the success of this conference, Lebanon is also a country with many friends and enormous potential.”

READ THE FULL STATEMENT:

I send my greetings to those who participated in the April 6 “CEDRE” Investment Conference on Lebanon and the Lebanese people. Lebanon is a country facing countless challenges, including an unprecedented influx of refugees and the corrosive influence of Iran and Hizballah. But as we can see from the success of this conference, Lebanon is also a country with many friends and enormous potential.

I commend the government of Lebanon’s progress, under the leadership of Prime Minister Sa’ad Hariri, to address these pressing challenges. Lebanon has now passed a budget in two consecutive years, increased Lebanese Armed Forces deployments in the south, and defeated ISIS in Lebanon. And, it will soon hold historic parliamentary elections. These are all steps toward improved governance and a more secure Lebanon.

I also welcome and support Lebanon’s plans to strengthen its economy through its Capital Investment Plan and its commitment to implement necessary reforms, including combatting corruption, increasing transparency, and improving accountability and fiscal management. Undoubtedly, Lebanon’s ambitious set of infrastructure projects presents great opportunities to strengthen Lebanon’s economy and enhance economic prospects for the whole country. American companies will look forward to the new opportunities that the Capital Investment Plan will offer in Lebanon.

The United States is proud of our close ties with the Lebanese people, and stands in support of Lebanon’s efforts to strengthen its legitimate state institutions and develop an open, free economy that serves all Lebanese.

Lebanese Red Cross member killed by gunmen in Yemen

A Lebanese Red Cross worker was shot and killed by unknown gunmen on April 21 while working in Sana’a, Yemen.

Hanna Lahoud, 37, was in charge of the Red Cross detention program in Yemen. Officials said he was on his way to a prison when armed assailants attacked his vehicle.

He was transported the hospital, where he died of his injuries.

In a news release, the International Committee of the Red Cross said, “We condemn this brutal and apparently deliberate attack on a dedicated humanitarian worker.”

The ICRC is a humanitarian institution based in Geneva that was founded in 1863.

“We are all in shock. Hanna was a young man full of life and was widely known and liked,” said Robert Madini, the Red Cross Middle East director. “Nothing can justify Hanna’s murder and we are in deep mourning for our dear friend and colleague. Our hearts and thoughts are with Hanna’s loved ones and friends.”

The Red Cross has been delivering aid to Yemen since the start of the country’s civil war in 2015.

To read the full ICRC statement on the incident click here.

ABC News anchor hosts live broadcast from Beirut

ABC News anchorman David Muir hosted a live broadcast from Beirut in the wake of major developments in Syria.

The news anchor, who has been reporting on air since 2009 on ABC World News Tonight, delivered the special report in response to President Donald Trump’s strikes on Syria.

You can watch the broadcast on ABC News, here.

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