Kesrouaun turnout of 70 percent highest in country
By Therese Sfeir
Daily Star staff
Monday, June 08, 2009


Preliminary results also showed the March 14 Forces as having a chance to win the Bekaa town of Zahle’s seven seats.

According to unofficial results, the Free Patriotic Movement won all seats in the districts of Kesrouan, Jbeil, Baabda and Jezzine. 

The results of another decisive district, Metn were still unclear at dawn on Sunday. 

Official figures for all districts are expected to be announced by noon Monday.

A strong Hizbullah showing in the polls, especially in Shiite areas in south Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley would further underline the group’s determination to ignore domestic and international pressures to disarm.

Exit polls indicated that Hizbullah and Amal made clean sweeps in the south Lebanon districts of Nabatieh, Marjayoun, Hasbaya, and Tyre. Bint Jbeil, and Zahrani.

Hizbullah and its ally Shiite Movement Amal called Sunday’s polls a referendum on the resistance’s arms.

"Today’s polls are a referendum on the path of resistance, unity and liberation," Speaker and leader of the Amal Movement Nabih Berri told reporters after he cast his vote in the southern village of Tebnin.

Edde, who ran as an Independent, expressed his satisfaction at the electoral process, but added that delays in casting ballots made people angry.

Candidate Clovis Khazen said Baroud took "all necessary measures to guarantee the integrity of the elections."

Former minister and candidate Fares Boueiz cast his ballot in the town of Zouk Mikael.

He said that voters were facing difficulties in casting their ballots within the specified time. He added that he expected the time for the electoral process would be extended.

Voters complained about the delay in casting their votes.

In Ajaltoun, a long queue of female voters waited for hours at a polling station before being able to cast their votes.

A number of people, including elderly women, were seen leaving before casting their ballots. Some of them said they would return.

When asked about the reason behind the delay, some polling officials said the head of a polling booth for women voters was "very slow" in checking ID cards. 

Voters in Kesrouan voiced support for their favored candidates, whether they were voting for the March 14 Forces and Independents’ list or the Aoun-led opposition list.

"We want a strong state with a strong army," said Ajaltoun resident Ralph Ghosn. "We don’t want a state within the state or a militia." 

"I am voting for a clean and cultured candidate, who loves his country," a woman, who did not wish to give her name, said.

Rumors about some attempts to hamper the democratic process spread in some polling stations in Kesrouan.

FPM delegates in Ajaltoun said that representatives from the opposing list "tried to replace the ballots of elderly people without their knowledge."

But the March 14 Forces candidates rejected such claims.

"The electoral process is going very smoothly and with transparency," a delegate from the Lebanese Forces said.

"Voting is our sacred right," said a 30-year-old FPM supporter in Jeita. "I want my children to have a better future in this country."

Another voter said that she was not planning to vote until she heard Aoun "attacking Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir."

"I am voting for those who defend the patriarch, for the March 14 candidates, though I never liked [Lebanese Forces leader] Samir Geagea," she said.

Another voter, Richard, said that he came from Saudi Arabia to cast his ballot for the FPM.

"I have seen what the majority group did over the past years. For this reason I am voting for change," he stated.

Candidates not running within lists included Habib Medawar, Youssef Salameh, Youssef Abu Sharaf, Antoine Hokayem, Mansour Akiki, Fady Barakat, Simon Sfeir, Ad-Diyar newspaper publisher Charles Ayoub and others.



KESROUAN: Kesrouan witnessed the highest turnout in the parliamentary elections on Sunday, with the participation rate in the district reaching 70 percent. Residents of Kesrouan-Ftouh started to gather at polling stations at 6 a.m. Sunday under tight security measures.

Two lists battled for the five Maronite seats in Kesrouan. The Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) headed by retired General Michel Aoun ran against a list formed by the March 14 Forces and Independents.

The FPM list included Aoun, Farid Elias Khazen, Youssef Khalil, Gilberte Zwein and Neamatallah Abi Nasr, all of whom represented Kesrouan in the Parliament that was elected in 2005.

The March 14 Forces and Independents’ list included former MPs Farid Haykal Khazen, Mansour Bon and Fares Boueiz, the president of the National Liberal Party Carlos Edde and journalist Sejaan Azzi.

Interior Minister Ziyad Baroud cast his ballot in the town of Jeita.

Addressing reporters afterward, he said that competition was a "sign of healthy elections."

After casting his ballot in the town of Mayrouba, Reform and Change MP Youssef Khalil expressed his satisfaction with the electoral process in general, but complained about delays and some obstructions facing voters.

He also urged Baroud to ask staff at polling stations to "speed up the electoral process, taking into consideration the massive participation of voters."

Khalil added that the election process would likely extend into the evening hours at "most of the stations as the participation rate is very high, which is very positive."