Lebanon: Mustaqbal Candidate Wins Tripoli By-Elections amid Low Voter Turnout
Mustaqbal Movement candidate Dima Jamali won Sunday’s by-election in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli, preliminary figures released by the party showed.
The victory will see her regain her parliament seat after her membership was annulled by the Constitutional Council last year following an appeal submitted by the Association of Islamic Charitable Projects (AICP), known as al-Ahbash, which is close to Hezbollah and the Syrian regime.
Voting was almost non-existent during the early hours of the day, except among Mustaqbal supporters. By noon, only 5 percent of eligible voters had taken part in the polls.
However, the pace partially picked up in the afternoon.
When the polling stations closed late in the afternoon, only 13 percent of the 248,000 voters appeared to have taken part in the election.
Observers in Beirut compared it to the 1992 polls, which saw a large boycott and had registered the lowest turnout at the time.
Residents in Tripoli said the dire economic and social conditions led to Sunday’s low turnout.
It was also attributed to a boycott by the March 8 forces, al-Ahbash, Alawite and Christian voters.
President Michel Aoun followed up on the course of the by-elections, while Interior Minister Raya al-Hassan called on citizens in Tripoli to head to polls to exercise their right to vote.
Later, a rumor was spread in Tripoli saying that the Mustaqbal Movement was forcing residents to head to the ballot stations. The movement completely denied the reports.
After voting on Sunday, former Prime Minister Najib Miqati, whose party backed Jamali’s candidacy, said the low turnout was very normal given the lack of a real political competitor against her.
She ran the elections against seven independent candidates.
Jamali enjoyed the backing of Miqati and former ministers Mohammed al-Safadi and Ashraf Rifi.