Friday, February 27, 2009

The Christians and the Elections

The Shia have Hassan Nasrallah, the Sunni Saad Hariri and the Druze Walid Junblatt. The Christians however, have many prominent figures fighting for their attention the most significant being: Amin Gemayel (Kataeb), Samir Geagea (LF), Michel Aoun (FPM) and Sleiman Franjieh (Marada). This contest over Christian leadership is pulling the community apart with the vital split being between March 14 aligned Christian parties (Gemayel's Kataeb and Geagea's LF) and March 8 (Michel Aoun's FPM and Franjieh's Marada). Further to this, there are the many Christians that are not supporters of any Christian party or any Christian leader. These non-aligned Christian will no doubt be intensively courted during the elections.

The internal division means that this election is a pivotal and dangerous one for the Christian population of Lebanon - unlike the last election of 2005 where the Christians were largely insignificant. The Christians will have a vital say in who attains the edge in the balance of power March 8/March 14; Shia/Sunni; Hezbollah/Future; allies of the US and Saudi Arabia/Syria and Iran.

In the upcoming general election the areas with a high risk of violence are expected to be those with predominately Christian populations and prominent numbers of both March 8 and March 14 supporters, such as in the Metn, Kora, Zgharta and Batroun.

There have already been several gun battles over the last few months. One of the most prominent incidents was gun fight between the Lebanese Forces (March 14) and Marada (March 8) that started over a argument about political posters. Most recently an argument in the coastal town of Shekka in the north of Lebanon developed into a fight and exchange of gunfire between Marada and the Lebanese Forces.

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