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LEBANON: News reports reflect divisions over election results

June 8, 2009 | 10:09 am

The Lebanese press unanimously declared the U.S.-backed March 14 coalition victorious in national elections, although reactions were as varied and fractious as the country's political landscape.

The pro-March14 daily An-Nahar ecstatically declared: "Lebanon has not seen elections like these in terms of competition and mobilization in decades, and March 14's win was more than a return to the majority. Rather, it signaled a return of the March 14 intifada [or uprising]."

Left-leaning daily Al-Akhbar sported the modest headline "The Majority Returns" and called for a period of "evaluation," conceding that March 14 did a better job attracting Christian votes. 

On an inside page, Mohammad Wehbe slammed both sides for reportedly spending $131 million on both air and land transportation for voters.

The pro-March 14 daily Future, run by the party of the same name, ran the triumphant headline, "March 14 renews its win as the majority." 

The pro-opposition daily As-Safir came out strongly against the election results with the front-page headline, "Elections under the 1960 law return the Parliament of civil division!" 

The article said, "The dust surrounding the electoral battle finally settled [...] re-creating the old parliament of national division after four years of open national strife."

The paper also featured an analysis of Lebanese television news by Mayssa Awad, who pulled no punches in her breakdown of election coverage. 

According to Awad, pro-March 14 MTV tripped over itself in an attempt to out-report competitor LBC, while OTV, loyal to Gen. Michel Aoun, defied the Ministry of Interior by broadcasting unofficial ballot tabulations. 

Hezbollah-owned Al Manar got points for its strong contingent of women correspondents, but was criticized for it selective coverage and clear bias in favor of Hezbollah and the Opposition.

Saad Hariri's Future TV got the worst review. Awad even mocked its attempt to report Beirut traffic as a "conspiracy."

The English-language Daily Star chose to stay out of the political fray by running a piece praising Interior Ministry Ziad Baroud for overseeing a relatively peaceful and orderly Election Day.

--Meris Lutz in Beirut