BEIRUT: A total of 155 candidates from different sects are running in the Lebanese legislative elections scheduled for May 15.
The only Shiite candidate on the Hezbollah and Amal Movement lists is MP Inaya Ezzeddine. The remaining Shia candidates are trying to win seats previously won by the Shia duo.
Choosing Ezzeddine to represent Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri and the Amal movement four years ago, in the 2018 parliamentary elections, was a deliberate decision to establish “the openness of the movement to the importance of the role of women in public affairs,” as Berri said at the time.
But Hezbollah secretary general Hassan Nasrallah was very clear about “not involving women in politics because in Lebanon MPs give condolences, attend weddings and provide services, and we , in Hezbollah, do not accept that our women exercise such functions”.
This year could be the first time that Shia women from Hezbollah’s entourage have opposed the party.
In the constituency of Baalbek-Hermel, in the north of the Bekaa, six electoral lists are vying for 10 parliamentary seats, including six for the Shiite sect.
One list includes Hezbollah and the Amal movement, another includes members of local clans. The others attract candidates from civil society movements that do not seem hostile to Hezbollah because their programs do not include demands related to the fate of the party’s weapons.
But Sarah Mansour Zeaiter, Shiite candidate present in the constituency of Baalbek-Hermel under the Qadreen list, was the subject of insults and defamatory comments from her family a few days ago.
The Zeaiter clan released a statement explaining that she does not represent the family and that the clan remains loyal to current MP and candidate in the upcoming elections Ghazi Zeaiter.
The statement does not mention that Ghazi Zeaiter is a defendant in the Beirut port explosion investigation.
In the constituency of Zahlé, in central Bekaa, eight lists are vying for seven seats, including one Shiite seat.
Among the competing lists is the Zahlé list for sovereignty supported by the Lebanese Forces, Hezbollah’s great rival. The list bears the slogan: “Restore sovereignty, liberate decision-making and directly confront Hezbollah”.
This means that any Shia candidate on this list is in an unenviable position, which happened with the candidate Dr Dima Abou Daya, who was disavowed by the Abou Daya family in a statement issued a few days ago.
Abou Daya, 41, a university professor specializing in law and business, provides training on anti-corruption and money laundering and is involved in women’s empowerment activities in Lebanon.
She said her decision to run in the legislative elections was bold because people were being deprived of their voices in Lebanon.
“To stand for election is a constitutionally guaranteed right and I have the courage to exercise my freedom of opinion protected by the constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” she told Arab News.
“Hezbollah and the Amal movement have always monopolized the Shia headquarters. This is the first time that a Shiite candidate has run for this seat outside of these two parties, which has been a challenge for them, especially since I call for sovereignty and patriotism.
“The whole family was not behind the denial statement. They were led by someone who is not a member of the family and is affiliated with one of the political parties. Half of the statement was prepared at advance. The signatures were added later and they were posted on social media, which exposed me to a lot of defamatory comments. It was also featured on the Hezbollah-affiliated Al-Manar channel and was published in many groups in Zahlé.
“It encouraged me more to continue what I had started, rather than give up and be afraid. This made me stick even more to my convictions. What does it mean to be disavowed by one’s family? Denial in our society happens when you commit a crime or adultery. What have I done?
“The logic with which they fight me contradicts their discourse on democracy. They don’t practice what they preach. The statement has indeed caused a rift in the family, but I am counting on free voices rather than stolen ones.
“My decision to stand as an independent candidate on a list supported by the Lebanese Forces is based on my personal convictions. Moreover, his program reflects my views.
Ali Al-Amin, the owner of the Janoubia website which opposes Hezbollah and who had already run in the legislative elections during the previous session, was the victim of verbal and physical violence.
“Any electoral movement that opposes Hezbollah upsets the party. They express this by isolating male and female independent candidates who oppose them, whether by imposing their ideological authority or their security authority,” he told Arab News.
“Hezbollah, which is a closed sectarian party that promotes patriarchy, has decided to use families and clans to exclude women candidates, knowing that this party had previously neglected and broken these clans and families and used them for its benefit. .
“At first they launched many online smear campaigns against me, then they threatened me. Afterwards, they beat me. They can even cause their target to leave their community. You could also be murdered, like what happened to researcher Lokman Slim. They captivate the whole sect, kill and suffocate society until it becomes obedient and meaningless, suffering from misery.