BEIRUT – The Lebanese Association for Democratic Elections said during a press conference Monday that it was “still too early to conclude whether the [voting] process was fair and transparent,” adding that the civil society group would issue a report next week documenting all the alleged violations it had detected.
Here’s what we know:
• “Despite these elections being long-awaited, after the popular uprisings of October 2019 and the economic crisis, they were disappointing and the process was emptied of its democratic meaning. While the government considered holding elections to be an achievement in itself, the number of violations recorded in the field does not reflect an achievement in any way,” a LADE representative said.
• “From the start of electoral campaigns until the counting of ballots, we can talk about ‘wholesale’ discrepancies, flagrant violations, threats and pressure inflicted by several political parties against a background of laxity from the interior ministry,” specifically in “failing to guarantee the safety of observers and electors,” the association stated.
• In terms of monitoring safety, “LADE observers were threatened, pressured, beaten, and some had to be called away from their duties to ensure their personal safety.”
• Among the most prominent threats to observers listed include how “most of the 31 observers in Saida were harassed by Hezbollah and Haraket Amal representatives; an Amal supporter threatened an observer in Rmeidiye, Sour, and was forced to withdraw from her post; observers in Saksakieh, South Lebanon, were threatened and asked to leave; an observer in Kfar Mette, Saida, was verbally harassed and assaulted; Hezbollah supporters beat two observers in Nabi Sheet; Lebanese Forces supporters threatened an observer in Mansourieh.”
• “Many observers witnessed many irregularities, especially in the Baalbeck-Hermel district — ranging from intimidation and threats, to not allowing observers to photograph or otherwise document reported violations, to having their mobile phones confiscated and recorded violations removed. Some observers were escorted by partisan supporters at all times and were intimidated when they moved from one polling station to another.”
• During its press conference LADE explained that it had observed numerous violations that could be considered an “assault on electors,” including Amal Movement and Hezbollah supporters expelling candidates from polling centers and “affronts to voting secrecy, with some electors being pressured from the moment they arrived at centers and going so far as party representatives accompanying them behind the privacy barrier.”
• LADE also reported clashes between supporters of the Lebanese Forces and the Free Patriotic Movement in Jezzine and Zahle.
• Violations continued during vote counting, with party representatives interfering and security forces’ barring observers from entering at the start of the sorting process. Despite guarantees that electricity would be available overnight, power cuts afflicted the tally.”
• LADE deployed over 1100 observers: 302 observers were located at different centers to determine the national pattern of violations; 695 observers roamed between the remaining centers; from 7pm 135 observers were assigned to monitor vote sorting, some of whom were still on-site as this report was filed.