INTERNATIONAL

Upset victory in Lebanese elections

BEIRUT: The anti-Syrian leader who returned from exile five weeks ago, Michel Aoun, caused a major upset on Monday when the results of Lebanon's parliamentary elections showed his faction had scored surprisingly high, denying a majority to other Opposition groups. According to results announced by Interior Minister Hassan al-Sabei, Mr. Aoun and his allies clinched 21 of the 58 seats contested on Sunday, temporarily stalling the Opposition alliance's drive to win a majority and end the dominance of pro-Syrian lawmakers in Parliament. ``Had the people not found a new direction [in our party],'' Mr. Aoun said after the results were announced, ``they would not have voted for us.'' The Shia Muslim Hezbollah guerilla group and its allies swept 10 seats in the eastern Beqa Valley. Druse leader Walid Jumblatt's list won in central Mount Lebanon, giving the opposition alliance a gain of 27 seats. With their wins in earlier rounds of the staggered elections, the Opposition now has 46 seats in the 128-member legislature. The pro-Syrian Hezbollah and their allies have 33 seats after elections in southern Lebanon and Beirut. Mr. Aoun has 21, making him a key player in the battle to end Syria's control of the legislature.

— AP

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