Lebanese Hezbollah says it expects parliamentary elections on time | world news


BEIRUT (Reuters) – Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah group said on Sunday it saw no reason to delay May’s legislative elections, days after politics were upended by the withdrawal of Saad al -Hariri of public life.

Hariri, Lebanon’s leading Sunni Muslim politician and three-time former prime minister, said on Monday he would boycott the vote https://www.Reuters.com/world/middle-east/lebanons-hariri-expected-announce- election-boycott-party-members-say-2022-01-24, adding to the uncertainties facing a country grappling with a devastating financial crisis https://www.Reuters.com/markets/rates-bonds/how-bad -is-lebanons-economic-collapse-2022-01-23.

“Everything indicates that the legislative elections will take place on time,” said Sheikh Naim Qassem, deputy leader of the heavily armed Hezbollah, according to a copy of his speech seen by Reuters.

Maronite Christian Patriarch Bechara Boutros Al-Rai https://www.Reuters.com/world/middle-east/lebanese-patriarch-warns-against-calls-postponing-vote-2022-01-30, a Hezbollah critic, said the Sunday Hariri’s decision should not be used as an excuse to call for a postponement.

Hezbollah’s opponents hope to overturn the majority won by the group and its allies, including President Michel Aoun’s Free Christian Patriotic Movement in 2018.

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Since then, the financial crisis has plunged most Lebanese into poverty. The collapse came to a head in late 2019, when economic grievances sparked protests against the ruling elite over decades of corruption and mismanagement.

Despite this, Hezbollah does not expect the elections to yield a significantly different outcome from 2018, Qassem said, dismissing what he described as expectations of an upheaval in parliament.

Hezbollah opinion polls across Lebanon showed that “the election results will be close to the composition of the current parliament, with slight changes that do not affect the overall composition”, he said.

“That’s why we say to those with high hopes, ‘get your feet on the ground,'” said Qassem, whose group is designated as a terrorist organization by countries including the United States.

While none of the main Lebanese parties have called for a postponement of the elections – Aoun https://www.Reuters.com/world/middle-east/lebanons-president-sees-no-reason-delay-polls-after -hariri-exit- 2022-01-29 said on Saturday he saw no reason for it – many observers believe it could suit a number of influential players well if they feel they are in danger of losing.

Western states want the vote to take place on time.

One party hoping to win is the Christian Lebanese Forces, a Saudi-aligned group that is fiercely critical of Hezbollah and Aoun.

Hariri leaves behind a fractured Sunni community where analysts believe Hezbollah’s Sunni allies could win more seats.

But Hezbollah’s adversaries also hope to win.

Hariri’s brother Bahaa https://www.Reuters.com/world/middle-east/lebanons-bahaa-rafik-al-hariri-says-he-will-continue-his-fathers-journey-2022-01- 28, announced his entry into politics on Friday. A fierce critic of Hezbollah, he intends to support candidates but will not run himself.

(Reporting by Tom Perry and Suleiman al-Khalidi; editing by David Evans)

Copyright 2022 Thomson Reuters.

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