Lebanon’s opposition has divided after efforts to include key Christian leader Michel Aoun in a broad Christian-Muslim alliance ended in failure. The upcoming elections are the first in Lebanon without Syrian troops for three decades. Opposition factions united following the killing of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, staging joint protests demanding the pullout of Syrian forces.
But the alliance did not last long after Syria’s withdrawal last month. Aoun, recently returned from exile, said he will head his own election list after talks with other opposition leaders collapsed. This was reportedly because Aoun insisted on selecting non-Maronite seats in the Aley-Baada district. But Druze Muslim leader Walid Jumblatt would only let him name candidates for the two Maronite seats available. Nevertheless, the election will not be fought down simple sectarian lines.Aoun, Jumblatt, and Sunni-Muslim leader Saad al-Hariri will field mixed Muslim-Christian lists in an effort to maximise their chances of success in Lebanon’s complicated power sharing system. Jumblat and al-Hariri have already forged alliances with smaller Christian opposition factions.