Lebanon’s Ex-PM Won’t Run in Elections

BEIRUT, Lebanon – Lebanon’s pro-Syrian former prime minister said Friday he will not run or vote in the upcoming parliamentary elections to protest the country’s election law and what he called “corruption along all levels.”

Former Prime Minister Omar Karami said said he was also protesting what he sees as the “appointment” rather than the election of the legislature’s new 128 members, apparently referring to to the way large factions and old foes were forging election alliances that could deny fair competition among candidates.

Pro-Syrian politicians are facing an uphill battle against powerful anti-Syrian factions that have recently joined together to try to end the pro-Syrian sway over the legislature.

Karami, the last prime minister to serve before Syria completed its troop withrawal last month, said in an interview Friday with Lebanese New-TV station that he decided to boycott the elections “after seeing these (political) farces and the extent of degradation to which political circles have reached, corruption at all levels along with lies and betrayal.”

Karami’s move followed similar decisions by a former deputy premier and former legislator who pulled out of the election race, citing a divisive election law drawn up in 2000 at the height of Syria’s control of Lebanon.

Karami was forced to step down on Feb. 28 under pressure of massive anti-Syrian demonstrations following the Feb. 14 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.