Hezbollah’s press office issued a statement Wednesday that it will withdraw its candidate, Hani Qassem, and join the Free Patriotic Movement in boycotting Sunday’s Beirut municipal elections. Although Hezbollah will participate in the Mukhtar elections, it added.
According to the statement, Hezbollah felt the current conciliatory atmosphere was an opportunity to form a united list, but the party face strong opposition from “the other side” to what it called normal demands.
However, the party’s March 8 allies – the Amal Movement and Tashnaq – agreed earlier this week to be represented on Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s “Beirut Unity” list.
President Michel Sleiman called on the parties Wednesday to embrace municipal election results. Any bribery claims should be directed to the prosecutor’s office, according to a statement issued by his office.
The president said anyone with accusations of vote-buying should request to appeal the results.
FPM leader MP Michel Aoun on Sunday accused his political opponents in the Jbeil district of vote-buying, saying it was possible to reach a consensus with rival candidates in the area.
Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Special
Envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell were locked Wednesday in discussions over planned indirect peace talks, which an Israeli minister said were doomed to failure.
The evening meeting between the premier and Mitchell was believed to focus on the planned start of the negotiations -likely toward the week’s end.
But Israel on Wednesday poured cold water on the prospect of success of such negotiations, with one of Netanyahu’s inner circle saying the so-called proximity talks were destined to failure. “I think we need to go quickly to direct talks,” he added.
On Tuesday, Abbas had expressed doubts about the prospect of re-engaging with Israel after a West Bank mosque went up in flames in an incident he blamed on Jewish settlers, and ultimately, the Israeli government.