BEIRUT (Aztag)–As Lebanon prepares for the second round of parliamentary elections set for Sunday–the Lebanese-Armenian community showed its solidarity with the United Armenian Bloc slate of candidates during a pre-election rally Wednesday at Bourdj Hammoud’s Shaghzoian center. The rally attracted more than 15,000 community members and supporters.
Present at the rally were Lebanese prime minister Selim Hoss–who has expressed his support for the United Armenian Bloc slate and has included some of its candidates in his own slate vying for parliamentary seats.
Last Sunday–in elections held in mountainous Lebanon–which includes Bourdj Hammoud–Metn and other Armenian-populated areas–the United Armenian Bloc candidate Sebouh Hovnanian was re-elected with more than 32,000 votes.
The newly re-elected Hovnanian joined his fellow Bloc members Minister Arthur Nazarian–Abraham Dedeian–George Kasardji–Hagop Pakradouni–Mihran Seferaian and Stepan Abadjian in greeting voters at the rally. Also present were Armenian Revolutionary Federation Bureau member Yervand Pamboukian and Social Democratic Hunchakian Party Central Executive chairman Vahridj Djeredjian. ARF Central Committee of Lebanon members and Hunchakian Lebanon Governing Body members were also present.
Prime minister Hoss was joined by his slate of candidates called "National Project," which includes Pakradouni–Seferian and Abadjian from the United Armenian bloc.
Meanwhile–influential minister Tammam Salam–the head of the "Beirut Coalition" bloc was also present with his slate of candidates.
Speaking at the rally were both Hoss and Salam–who emphasized the importance of the Armenian community in the elections and praised the national platform of the United Armenian Bloc.
Representatives of the ARF and Hunchakian party each discussed the intricacies of the election–calling on the community to rally behind the Bloc and cast their votes for the remaining six candidates during Sunday’s polls.
The main controversy surrounding Lebanon’s parliamentary elections stems from a group of Armenia’s who have abandoned the concept of national unity and have aligned themselves with the financially powerful former prime minister Rafik al Hariri. These Armenian candidates are working against the United Armenian Bloc and caused disturbances during last Sunday’s elections in Bourdj Hammoud.
While those disturbances were not serious–they–however–did scar the generally calm atmosphere in which the elections were held.
The major contest between Hariri and the ruling elite is foreseen to play out in this Sunday’s election–when the majority of electoral districts are up for grabs.
In his remarks–ARF Central Committee of Lebanon member Garo Hovannesian condemned the efforts by Armenian candidates of the Hariri bloc for disturbing the peace and casting a shadow over Armenian unity within the context of Lebanese politics.