Sunday, June 7, 2009

Election Lockdown in Beirut

Voters in Beirut give the election a'thumbs up'; city holds its breath as results trickle in
by Andrea McMahan

BEIRUT - Election Day has kicked off in Beirut and anticipation hangs in the air. Life size posters displaying the various candidates are plastered across the city while supporters have taken to the streets waving party flags and wearing colorful T-shirts expressing their party loyalty. In a move reminiscent of the Iraqi election, voters are marked with a purple thumb (such as Nadim and Dr. Georges Bashir pictured above) in an attempt to eliminate duplicate voting.

One would almost think the city was hosting the Super Bowl with all the excitement. However, the possibility is quickly dashed by the scores of military personnel that have been deployed to Beirut and other surrounding areas in an effort to minimize any potential trouble relating to the election. Troops are visible from all corners of the city, with many stationed in armored tanks at busy intersections around Beirut while military checkpoints monitor passing motorists. With the city heavily secured most people feel reassured taking to the polls. However, one can't escape the collective holding of breaths as the country awaits tomorrow's results.

Despite the tension, people are still going on with their day-to-day lives as many people in Beirut are accustomed to doing. The city has officially closed through Monday with businesses and restaurants going dark and limited interaction on the streets. However, a few cafes have remained open hoping to cater to the scores of citizens who have returned to Beirut to cast their vote and are seeking a slice of the nightlife. Many people we’ve talked to regard the brief reprieve as ‘business as usual’ and look forward to Tuesday when the city gets back into full swing.

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