BEIRUT – At least four parliamentary candidates have announced this week that they are withdrawing their candidacy from the 2022 legislative elections, among them candidates running in the Baalbek-Hermel (Bekaa III), Akkar (North I) and Zahle (Bekaa I).
However, the deadline for candidates to officially withdraw through the Interior Ministry was closed on March 30, meaning that the names of these candidates and possibly others will remain on electoral lists, since withdrawals announced after the said deadline are not recognized under Lebanese electoral law.
The law states that candidates may not withdraw their nomination unless by virtue of a legal statement authenticated by the notary and submitted to the Interior Ministry at least 45 days before the date of the election.
The withdrawal of nominations after the allotted period has no legal weight, noted Aly Sleem, executive director of the Lebanese Association for Democratic Elections.
“The announcement of withdrawal by the candidates after the allotted deadline is only to inform the voters,” he said.
As such, in theory, a candidate who has withdrawn after the deadline could “win” the election by getting the highest number of preferential votes. In this case, winning candidates have no choice but to accept their title as an MP, but can later resign from that post, Sleem said.
Some of the candidates cited family or social pressure as the reason for their withdrawal.
Parliament candidate Nizar Ibrahim, running with Akkar Revolts supported by opposition groups close to the protest movement, announced his withdrawal on April 20 from the Alawite seat in Akkar, and said in a statement that he was withdrawing :”out of concern for the ranks of the [Alawite] sect and its unity in this election” urging his potential voters to instead “support the Free Patriotic Movement's list.”
Rifaat Nayef al-Masry, announced on 28 April his candidacy withdrawal from the Lebanese Forces-associated Building the State list in the Baalbek-Hermel based on a request from his family, saying: “As long as the Israeli enemy continues its aggression against Lebanon, we are aligned with the Lebanese resistance.”
Masry is the third Shiite candidate to announce his abandonment of the Building the State list headed by Sheikh Abbas al-Jawhari in alliance with the Lebanese Forces party, the National News Agency noted.
The candidate, Heymen Abbas Mcheik announced his withdrawal from the same list on April 24 in support of Amal and Hezbollah’s Hope and Loyalty list running in the same district.
Similarly, Shiite candidate Ramez Amhaz, who had been on the same list, announced on April 22 his withdrawal from the elections in a press conference in the town of Labweh.
Jawhari has alleged attempts by Hezbollah supporters to intimidate him, and on Monday, a video circulating on social media showed young men shooting in the air amid an election rally held by the sheikh.