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Hariri's Bloc Wins Landslide Victory in Election

Lebanon's anti-Syrian alliance led by Saad Hariri said Sunday night it won a landslide victory in the final phase of the just concluded parliamentary election to guarantee its majority in a new parliament.

"We are heading to a total victory" according to incomplete results from the count witnessed by the alliance staff, a leading candidate told Hariri's Future TV channel.

Another alliance source said "we are heading for a landslide in north Lebanon. We'll easily get the 21 seats necessary for the parliament majority."

Meanwhile, Pro-Syrian Christian former minister Suleiman Franjieh conceded to the local LBC television station that his candidates were heading for defeat.

"What we feared is happening" and "we have arrived at what we used to warn against," he said.

However, all the remarks were unofficial. Interior Minister Hassan al-Sabaa is expected to declare the official results Monday.

Polling stations in northern Lebanon opened Sunday morning for voters to cast their ballots to choose 28 lawmakers, 13 Muslim and 15 Christian representatives, in the last stage, or fourth round of the parliamentary elections.

Being the first ballot in Lebanon after Syria withdrew its troops after a 29-year presence, it was held on four consecutive Sundays from May 29 until June 19 in different constituencies across the country.

The first three phases have already created 100 of the total of 128 members of the parliament. Among the 100 seats, the anti-Syrian alliance led by Saad al-Hariri, son of the slain former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri, won 44 seats, which means at least 21 more seats the alliance must win in this Sunday's polling to guarantee its majority in the future.

In the first round of the general elections on May 29, Hariri's bloc claimed a sweeping victory by winning the capital of Beirut's all 19 seats.

The pro-Syrian Shiite alliance of Amal movement and Hezbollah won all the 23 seats in south Lebanon polls on June 5 in the second round of the legislative elections.

Last Sunday, voters in Mount Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley cast their ballots for the third round of the elections. Anti-Syrian Druze opposition leader Walid Jumblatt's list won 27 seats in central Mount Lebanon in the polls, while his opponent anti-Syrian Christian leader Michel Aoun and his allies won 21 seats in the Maronite Christian heartlands northeast of Beirut and pro-Syrian Hezbollah won 10 seats in the eastern Bekaa Valley.

Syria completed all troops withdrawal from its tiny neighbor on April 26 under intense international pressure and mass Lebanese protests following the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri on Feb. 14.

The death of Hariri, a Sunni and the major architect of Lebanon's post-civil war reconstruction, also plunged Lebanon into a political crisis and forced the resignation of its pro-Syrian government.

(Xinhua News Agency June 20, 2005)

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Hariri Sweeps Beirut Election in Lebanon 1st Round
Syria Completes Troop Withdrawal from Lebanon
UN Votes for Probe into Hariri Assassination
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