Tomorrow’s by-elections in Metn
BEIRUT — Tomorrow’s by-elections have turned into a critical test of political power here in Lebanon and the results will be seen as a
Some background on the election is here, in a column I wrote for Spot-on.com. I’ll wait while you read and come back
I was speaking with a representative from Aoun’s people yesterday and they expect to win. This rather confusing report from Information International (caveat emptor) say that 60 percent of the Maronite vote will go to Amin Gemayel while 85 percent of the Armenian vote will go to Kamile Khoury, the FPM candidate. What does that mean in predicting who will ultimately win? No idea. But I’ve seen some numbers from various outlets pointing to an Aounist victory with about 53 percent of the vote. The general swept the region in the 2005 elections.
This election is splitting the Christians of Lebanon. They’re the only group with a significant split these days. It’s no exaggeration to say that almost all Sunnis and Druze support the March 14 movement while almost all Shi’ites support the opposition bloc. But the Christians are a different story.
Historically split, some of the fiercest and most vicious battles of the 1975-90 civil war were fought between the Christian groups. In the waning days of the conflict, Aoun as caretaker prime
Today, Aoun and the Gemayel family — from whose Phalange Party the Lebanese Forces militia split off — are still at each others’ throats, making this election a contest for the right to claim the leadership of the Christians of Lebanon. If Aoun wins — and there’s a real chance he might — that will indicate the Christian heartland has shifted away from the government.
If Aoun’s candidate loses, however, Aoun will no longer be able to tell his buddies in the opposition he can rally Lebanon’s Christians, which was a key selling point when he joined that side. His chances of ever becoming president — which can only happen if the opposition brings down the March 14 government and supports Aoun for the top spot — will be zero.
(By the way, although Aoun’s people say he isn’t pro-Syrian, if you’re allied with pro-Syrian parties, continue to oppose the faction that’s vehemently anti-Syrian, work to bring down the anti-Syrian government and run for a seat that was vacated because of an assassination that was probably at the hands of Syrian agents, you’re pretty much “objectively” pro-Syrian. All of which makes his bid for the presidency so galling to half of the country. They already have one Syrian stooge for a president in the form of Emile Lahoud. After the Syrian troops left, isn’t it time, they argue, for someone who’s not in Damascus’ back pocket?)
At any rate, Lebanon doesn’t really do “losing gracefully,” so there is a high chance of violence in the coming days. Already tonight, there have been scuffles around the Aounists’ headquarters in Mansouriya and the army and security forces are out in force. Both sides have indicated they’re ready to fight, with the LF leadership speaking of willing to spill blood and Aoun himself saying Saturday that “our fists” are ready to protect people.
I’m heading up tomorrow early after IraqSlogger duties to keep an eye on things. Will report in when I get back.