Bassil Declares Victory of FPM Nominee in Jezzine By-election, Demands Early Polls

Free Patriotic Movement chief Jebran Bassil announced Sunday evening that the candidate fielded by the FPM, Amal Abou Zeid, had won the parliamentary by-election that was held in the southern city of Jezzine to fill the seat left vacant by the death of Change and Reform bloc MP Michel Helou.

“What is happening in Jezzine is much greater than municipal polls. We are here to say that our hand is extended to everyone and that we emerged victorious thanks to Jezzine’s sons, our FPM supporters and the rest of the parties and families,” said Bassil from Jezzine.

Noting that Jezzine’s by-election proves that the extension of the parliament’s term was “a big lie,” Bassil demanded “early parliamentary elections under a new electoral law.”

“But they don’t want that, because the results will be similar to what happened in Jezzine today,” he added.

“Jezzine will not return to occupation as long as the resistance exists and it will not return to political captivity as long as there is a Free Patriotic Movement,” Bassil pledged referring to Israel’s 1978-2000 occupation of southern Lebanon and the political influence that Speaker Nabih Berri has in the Jezzine district.

“This is the land of (FPM founder) General Michel Aoun where he can never be defeated,” Bassil boasted, congratulating Abou Zeid on his declared win.

The parliamentary by-election was held in Jezzine in parallel with municipal and mayoral elections that were held Sunday in the district and entire south Lebanon.

Abou Zeid was nominated by the FPM and enjoyed key support from the Lebanese Forces, which is allied with the FPM in the municipal polls.

His main competitor was Ibrahim Azar, the son of ex-MP Samir Azar who was close to Speaker Nabih Berri. Azar, who enjoyed the support of some families, was expected to garner votes from Berri’s AMAL Movement although it did not officially endorse him.

According to early results, Abou Zeid was leading with 9,481 votes while Azar was running second with 4,963 votes.

The FPM voiced calls on Sunday and said: “We urge the people of Jezzine to participate in the by-election and vote in favor of Abou Zeid.”

In the afternoon, Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea lamented what he described as the “unsatisfactory voter turnout in the city of Jezzine,” urging residents to “head to polling stations despite the traffic condition at the al-Awwali River and other obstacles.”

Voter turnout reached 53% in the Jezzine district, according the Interior Ministry.

Lebanon’s municipal elections kicked off first in the capital Beirut and in Baalbek-al-Hermel on May 8.

They were followed by polls in Mount Lebanon that were held on May 15.

May 29 will witness the last round which will be held in the North and Akkar.