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Beirut Bar Council elections show decreased presence of popular protest movement-linked candidates

The president of the Beirut Bar Association hails "good organization" of the elections.

Beirut Bar Council elections show decreased presence of popular protest movement-linked candidates

Election of four members of the Council of the Bar Association at the Beirut Justice Palace on Nov. 20, 2022. (Credit: Claude Assaf/L'Orient Today)

BEIRUT — The lawyers of Beirut elected on Sunday, at the Justice Palace in the capital, four members of the Bar Council for a three-year term: Saadeddine Khatib (1,759 votes) and Maya Zaghrini (1,335 votes) were re-elected, while Georges Yazbeck (1,316 votes) and Mayssam Younes (1,184 votes) were also elected. A substitute was also elected: Maya Chehab (1,141 votes). This election was marked by a decline in the representation for the Oct. 17, 2019 popular protest.

The Bar Association's Council, formed of 12 members, holds elections annually for one-third of its seats. This year, 16 candidates competed for the four seats previously occupied by Melhem Khalaf, Pierre Hanna, Saadeddine Khatib and Maya Zaghrini.

Voting, which began at 9 a.m., was extended by 15 minutes due to the large influx of lawyers, before ending at 1:15 p.m. Electronic ballot boxes were placed on both floors of the courthouse as well as in the square outside the building. Approximately 3,700 lawyers participated in the ballot, a lower number compared to last year when the election of a new president of the bar was also held.

'Well organized' ballot

President of the Bar of Beirut, Nader Gaspard, told L'Orient-Le Jour that the "ballot took place in a very organized manner," noting that the necessary logistical equipment was used for this purpose. Several sources said that Gaspard supported three of the winners, Khatib, Zaghrini and Younes.

Participants in the elections of four members of the Council of the Bar Association in front of the Justice Palace in Beirut on Nov. 20, 2022. (Credit: Claude Assaf/L'Orient Today)

Independent candidates in the running this year relied on the support of establishment political parties. This year, Yazbeck, supported by the National Bloc, which claims proximity to the popular protest movement, is the only candidate close to this movement to be elected.

The protest in retreat

In 2019, Khalaf, then an independent candidate supported by civil society, was elected president of the Beirut Bar. Now a member of Parliament, Khalaf told L'Orient-Le Jour that candidacy in the elections "requires preparation." "Whether you are an independent candidate, supported by a political party or the popular uprising, you become a lawyer at the service of all the people when you join the Council of the Order," Khalaf said. "We are not a party, each person who aspires to change is considered part of the forces of change," he added.

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According to several sources, Khatib was supported by the Future Movement, the Lebanese Forces (LF), the Kataeb and the Progressive Socialist Party (PSP). He also allegedly enjoyed the support of Gaspard, as well as a range of relations among independents, and even the support of a number of colleagues from the Amal Movement.

Zaghrini, who is close to the LF, was supported by this party, as well as by the PSP and the Future Movement. She was also allegedly supported by Gaspard. Younes, an independent and the wife of Ghassan Skaff — an independent member of Parliament elected on the PSP list in the legislative elections (Western Bekaa-Rachaya) — also allegedly benefited from Gaspard's support. Younes was also supported by the PSP, the Kataeb and the Future Movement.

Yazbeck, meanwhile, was supported by the National Bloc and many of his independent peers, as well as by several members of the Bar Council.

For her part, Chehab was supported by the FPM. According to a well-informed source, this support was the result of contacts between the party and two former Bar Association presidents, Nohad Jabre and Andre Chidiac. Two other former presidents of the Bar Association, Boutros Doumit and Selim Osta, also support Chehab.

Tripoli Bar election

The by-elections for the council of the Bar Association of Tripoli (North Lebanon) were also held on Sunday. Pascale Ayoub (469 votes) and Jamal Ichrakiye (382 votes) won the elections, after Tarek Khabbazi (416 votes) gave up his seat to Ichrakiye, thus respecting a tradition that provides for Islamic-Christian parity on the council. According to the state-run National News Agency, 1,010 lawyers out of a total of 1,339 voted.

Pascale Ayoub was supported by the FPM; Khabbazi by several parties, including the LF; and Ichrakiye by the former MP Faisal Karami.

The Tripoli Bar Council is composed of six members, with two members elected each year.


BEIRUT — The lawyers of Beirut elected on Sunday, at the Justice Palace in the capital, four members of the Bar Council for a three-year term: Saadeddine Khatib (1,759 votes) and Maya Zaghrini (1,335 votes) were re-elected, while Georges Yazbeck (1,316 votes) and Mayssam Younes (1,184 votes) were also elected. A substitute was also elected: Maya Chehab (1,141 votes). This election was marked...