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French Version

Jumblatt, Hamade take uncontested seats

Some 166,447 voters cast their ballots in the Chouf, about 46 percent voter turnout, to elect six MPs after the uncontested victories of Chouf MPs Walid Jumblatt and Marwan Hamade.

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Three tickets were competing in the Chouf. The first, the National Struggle Front, included George Adwan, Elie Aoun, Nabil Boustany, Neameh Tohmeh, Mohammad Hajjar and Alaeddine Tirro.

The second list was incomplete and contained Camille Dory Chamoun and Simon Qazzi, while the third list, also incomplete, had Mario Aoun and Ghayyath Boustany on it. The latter list was supported by Michel Aoun's FPM.

There were also four independent candidates: Kamil Butros Lahoud, Raymond Abdo Rajha, Suleiman Mahfouz Abu Rjeily and Ramzi Shaqer Awad.

Throughout the day, a delegation of international observers made a tour of polling stations in Aley and the Chouf to verify the appropriate measures were being taken.

Observers from the Lebanese Association for Democratic Elections also inspected polling stations, while delegates of the candidates made their rounds, in a mostly calm climate.

In Damour, elections were marked by enthusiasm and a high turnout of voters.

Jumblatt cast his ballot at the Kamal Jumblatt Public School polling station in Mukhtara with his wife, Nora, son Aslan, daughter Karima and Chouf MP Neameh Tohme.

After voting, Jumblatt said: "This is my vote for the defense of the resistance and for national reconciliation," and asserted his alliance with Samir Geagea's Lebanese Forces, Hizbullah and Saad Hariri's Future Movement. He added: "Let voting be in favor of [Maronite] Patriarch [Nasrallah] Sfeir and the Qornet Shehwan and all honest independent people for a moderate Lebanon, an Arab Lebanon, an independent Lebanon."

Commenting on Michel Aoun's visit to Bkirki on Saturday to reassure his supporters, Jumblatt said: "He wants to reassure them because he knows that he scares all people with his random speech. Unfortunately, his mentality has not changed. I hope it will change now."

Jumblatt stressed the importance of Druze voting for Christian candidates in a bid to safeguard national unity.

He further said he wanted to establish a moderate and independent country while Aoun wanted to lay the foundations of an "adventure," accusing the retired general of attempting to steal credit for the opposition's achievements.

For his part, Hamade listed top political priorities after the election period as; forming a new government, issuing a general amnesty law to release Geagea and addressing the issue of President Emile Lahoud's term extension. Hamade voted at the Baaqlin Secondary Public School with his son, Karim.

He said the Chouf was "voting today for its unity, the unity of Lebanon, its independence ... far from the interference of security apparatuses."

In Deir al-Qamar where competition was fierce between Adwan, Chamoun and Boustany, National Liberal Party President Dory Chamoun said participation in the elections aimed at achieving high voter turnout rather than winning a seat in Parliament.

LF candidate George Adwan said his party's message was to proclaim coexistence and national unity.

On Saturday, Saad Hariri urged Iqlim al-Kharroub residents to vote en masse for the opposition's list and promised to meet with them soon to discuss the area's needs. Hariri said he would work to reduce economic hardships in the area, which was "very dear" to his father, the late Premier Rafik Hariri.

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Beirut 13-06-2005
Maher Zeineddine
The Daily Star

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