Beirut: Authorities arrest several voters in Metn areas

Authorities arrest several voters in Metn areas

Daily Star, Lebanon
May 3 2004

Several voters and representatives of opposition candidates on Sunday
were arrested and beaten up in Metn areas, which is considered former
Interior Minister Michel Murr’s turf.

Clashes and confrontations took place between the opposition
and the authoritries, especially in the municipalities of
Jdeideh-Boushrieh-Sadd, Zalka-Amarat Shalhoub, whereas other areas
did not even witness an electoral battle, such as Bourj Hammoud,
where the authority-supported list won uncontested.

A fight between Free Patriotic Movement representatives and some
delegates from Tashnak Party in Jdeideh-Boushrieh-Sadd municipality
resulted in four arrests of Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) supporters.
In addition, a confrontation between delegates from the opposition
list and others from the current municipal council which is backed
by the authorities took place in Zalka-Amarat Shalhoub municipality.
“A delegate from the Michel Assaf Murr (current mayor) took a list
from our delegate and ripped it up, and earlier this morning, voters
were banned from using the booth,” Faddy Massoud, an FPM member said.

However, Murr asserted that everything was under control, “there
is no need for further quarrel, voters will make their choice with
no pressure.”

Meanwhile, a heavy turn-out of naturalized citizens, who do not
live in Mount Lebanon, prompted feelings of anger among opposition
representatives. This group of voters who were granted citizenship
under a disputed law, came from the Bekaa and South areas.

One of the bus drivers said that lists were distributed to them before
they headed out.

“These people don’t even know how to read and write so they don’t even
know who they are voting for,” Eddie Jbeily, an FPM member monitoring
the course of elections at the Jdeideh municipality said.

In Antelias and Dbayyeh, elections took place quietly, and candidates
from both sides asserted on the democratic slant of the elections,
and that results will be decided by voters.