Supporters of Lebanon’s Maronite Christian opposition take to the streets after news that their candidate has narrowly won a key by-election in Beirut. Official results showed Khamil Khoury led by a margin of only 418 votes from around 79,000 cast during a peaceful ballot in the Metn district of the capital.
Christian leader General Michel Aoun called for the calm to continue: “We hope that everything that happens tonight happens peacefully. This election battle was not against a martyr (Pierre Gemayel) whom we love and respect, but was a choice of a political line.”
The race to win the seat, left empty after the assassination of anti-Syrian politician Pierre Gemayel last November, had turned into a test of strength between the ruling coalition and the opposition.
Both Aoun and Gemayel’s father Amin, the second candidate, exchanged charges of forgery and vote rigging. Meanwhile, in a concurrent by-election, the pro-government candidate Mohammad Amin Itani won 85 percent of the vote in the Sunni seat in Beirut left vacant after the killing of deputy Walid Eido in June.