Lebanese vote in second round of municipal polls

BEIRUT- The second round of Lebanon's municipal elections took place on Sunday in Beirut and the Bekaa region, respectively dominated by Prime Minister Saad Hariri and the Shiite party Hezbollah.
Polling among the 3.33 million electorate began on May 2 in the Mount Lebanon area overlooking the capital, and is scheduled for every Sunday of this month, except May 16.

A Lebanese woman casts her vote in Beirut.
A Lebanese woman casts her vote in Beirut.
In Beirut, which is dominated by Hariri's coalition, nearly 450,000 voters were eligible to choose their own councils and mukhtars, or mayors.
Two hours before polling stations closed at 1600 GMT turnout in Beirut was poor at an estimated 18 percent.
No real contest is expected in the northern Bekaa Valley region, a bastion of Hezbollah, except for certain localities where family and local ties take precedence over political affiliations among the 550,000 electorate.
Turnout was 38 percent in Baalbek and 42 percent in Zahle, the Bekaa's two largest towns, again two hours before polling ended.
In Bekaa, 49 of 155 town councils were previously elected to office based on family and clan affiliations.
Thousands of security and military personnel have been deployed to ensure the safety of the polls, in which a simple majority is needed for victory. Tanks were stationed in several points around the capital.
The last local elections were in 2004.
A political lull reigns in Lebanon since the formation in November last year of a national unity government, which includes two Hezbollah ministers.

Monday, May 10th 2010

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