AFP
Last updated: 20 June, 2013

Lebanese clashes over postponement of election

Around 100 people, mostly youths, clashed with police on Thursday as they protested against a decision to postpone parliamentary elections in Lebanon until the end of next year.

The clashes broke out when the protesters tried to break through a security cordon outside parliament and were beaten back by baton-wielding police.

The protesters responded by throwing sticks and bottles of water.

Two demonstrators were lightly injured in the scuffles, which subsided by early evening, with demonstrators vowing to hold a sit-in.

On May 31, MPs voted to postpone parliamentary elections, which had been due this spring, until November of next year.

The motion to extend the normal four-year term between elections said it was necessary because of “the security situation in several Lebanese regions that gives rise to political escalation and division which often take on confessional forms”.

“Security and political tensions prevent the holding of an election campaign,” it said.

The delay followed a months-long deadlock over a new electoral law and with Prime Minister Tamman Salam, who was named on April 6, still unable to form a new government because of divisions over Syria.

Multi-confessional Lebanon, which fought a bitter civil war from 1975-1990, is deeply divided over the conflict in neighbouring Syria, which is complicating its political life.

The Sunni Muslim opposition widely supports the Sunni-led uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, while the powerful Shiite movement Hezbollah, a long-time Assad ally, is actively aiding his forces inside Syria. At the same time, some Sunni fighters have gone to help the rebels.

In Lebanon’s northern city of Tripoli, there have been deadly clashes between Alawites, members of the same sect to which Assad belongs, and their Sunni neighbours.