Hezbollah appears to have gained in Lebanon vote

Source: Associated Press

By ZEINA KARAM and BASSEM MROUE

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BEIRUT (AP) — The Iran-backed Hezbollah group and its political allies made significant gains in Sunday’s parliamentary elections in Lebanon while the main Western-backed faction lost a third of its seats, according to preliminary results released Monday.

The initial results, which were carried by Lebanese media and are more or less expected to match the official count, show that Prime Minister Saad Hariri, a Sunni politician with close ties to Saudi Arabia, has lost at least five seats in Beirut, once considered his party’s stronghold.

Hariri told reporters that his Future Movement won 21 seats in Sunday’s vote, a drop of 11 from what they got in the 2009 elections. He blamed a new electoral law and a performance “that wasn’t up to the standard.” Hariri would still have the largest Sunni bloc in parliament, facilitating his return as prime minister to form the next government.

“My hand is extended to every Lebanese who participated in the elections to preserve stability and create jobs,” Hariri said in a televised statement Monday. He said he would continue to work closely with President Michel Aoun, who is allied with the rival, Hezbollah-led bloc.

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