The anti-Syrian opposition coalition swept the fourth and final round of parliamentary elections in Lebanon and has secured a majority in the new parliament.
|Saad Hariri during visit to Beirut polling station|
The opposition coalition led by Saad Hariri, the son of assassinated former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, swept all 28 of the seats for northern Lebanon.
At a news conference late Monday, Interior Minister Hassan Sabaa read the names of the winners from the fourth and final round of parliamentary elections.
Just before official results were announced, Saad Hariri said this is the first time the north has voted for one complete alliance.
"This is the first time the people vote for a program," he said. "People voted for a whole list and I think this is the reason we won and we believe Lebanon is a united Lebanon. Lebanon is for everyone. We truly believe in that whereas some others do not."
The four rounds of staggered parliamentary elections began and ended strong for the Hariri ticket, which also swept all of the seats up for grabs during the first round of the elections held in Beirut.
Although the coalition controls 72 of the 128 seats in parliament and therefore a majority, they had hoped to secure a two-thirds majority needed to change the constitution and force pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud to leave office.
The alliance suffered a major upset during the third round of the elections held last week in the Mount Lebanon and Bekaa Valley region of the country after anti-Syrian former General Michel Aoun broke ranks with the coalition and teamed up with pro-Syrian candidates.
General Aoun's alliance took 21 seats in that round, more than anyone had expected and damaged opposition hopes to challenge the president.
General Aoun has accused Saad Hariri's alliance of corrupting the vote by buying support, especially in the north. The European Union Election Observation Mission said Monday that they had witnessed problems in the voting but overall it had been managed correctly.