The Lebanese reformer, another representative, lost his parliamentary seats

BEIRUT — Two newly elected Lebanese lawmakers, including an activist who promised to fight corruption, lost their parliamentary seats on Thursday following an appeal process before the country’s constitutional council.

Ramy Finge, a dentist and pro-democracy activist from the northern city of Tripoli, was among 13 independent candidates who won seats in Lebanon’s parliamentary elections last May, ousting opponents from Lebanon’s traditional parties.

The decision to revoke the Lebanese Constitutional Council’s mandate was followed by an appeal that said the initial vote tally was inaccurate. The council revoked Finge’s victory and returned his seat to his opponent and longtime lawmaker Faisal Karami.

Karami is a close ally of the Iran-backed Hezbollah militant group and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Thursday’s council decision adds another lawmaker to the Hezbollah-backed multi-party coalition.

In Lebanon’s political system, opponents of a candidate can later appeal to the council. Local and international election observers say they have documented cases of fraud in the May elections, as well as vote-buying and occasional violence.

See also  EU court sides with Fiat Chrysler in tax advantage case

The decision came as Lebanon’s newly elected – but still deeply divided – parliament failed to elect a new president after President Michel Aoun’s term expired last month.

Finge supported Michel Mouawad in the presidential election, a candidate backed by traditional parties close to the United States and Gulf Arab states and a staunch opponent of Hezbollah.

The tiny Mediterranean country of Lebanon is in the grip of an economic crisis that has impoverished about three-quarters of its 6 million people, as well as a political crisis that has left it without a president and a transitional government with only limited functions.

In May, Finge told The Associated Press that he hoped to “bring down this corrupt ruling class” in parliament and, along with other independent colleagues, pull Lebanon out of the economic mire.

Mark Daou, another independent MP, paid tribute to Finge after he ousted him from the seat, describing him in a tweet as a “responsible and serious MP”.

See also  St. Lucia charges president of island's Senate

“We will stand by him and stay together on all fronts,” Daou said.

On Thursday, the Constitutional Council also removed Firas Salloum, a lawmaker from northern Lebanon and the country’s Alawite minority. He was replaced by the reform party candidate, Haidar Nasser, who submitted the appeal after the elections.