The Carter Center in 2009 observed parliamentary elections in Lebanon, a country marked by recent civil strife and political instability.
After years of Syrian involvement in Lebanon, the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, coupled with growing international pressure, sparked the so-called Cedar Revolution that forced Syria to withdraw its presence in 2005. The demonstrations marked a new era of Lebanese independence and showed the power of individuals to promote political change through peaceful demonstration. The promise of political liberalization, namely the organization of parliamentary elections, and an international commission to investigate Hariri's death arose from the protesters' demands.
After the withdrawal of Syrian troops, Lebanon endured civil strife and political instability. The country experienced continued turmoil as a result of the 2006 war with Israel, the long siege of the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp, and infighting between Lebanon's two main political forces, the March 8 and March 14 Alliances. The situation came to a head in May 2008 when militia clashes resulted in the deaths of more than 60 people. Faced with growing civil strife, key leaders negotiated an end to political deadlock. The Doha Agreement, signed on May 21, 2008, laid the groundwork for the reconvening of Parliament and the Cabinet of Ministers, the election of President Michel Slieman, the consideration of several electoral reforms, and an agreement to hold parliamentary elections in 2009.
The Carter Center deployed long-term observers in March 2009 to monitor the administration of elections, the campaign period, voting and counting procedures, electoral complaints and appeals mechanisms, and other issues related to the overall electoral process. A delegation of 60 short-term observers was deployed over the immediate period surrounding election day, June 7. In its preliminary statement, the Center commended the Lebanese people and the electoral authorities for the successful conduct of the 2009 parliamentary elections, the results of which had been accepted by both the governing and opposition coalitions. While the process fell short of several of Lebanon's international commitments, most notably the need to protect fully the secrecy of the ballot, it was conducted with enhanced transparency and in accordance with Lebanon's new consensual electoral law and regulations.
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Size: 10,400 square kilometers
Population below poverty line: 29 percent
Life expectancy: 77 years
Ethnic groups: Arab, Armenian, other
Religions: Muslim (Shia, Sunni), Christian (Maronite Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Greek Catholic, other Christian), Druze, Jewish, Baha'i, Buddhist, Hindu, Mormon
Languages: Arabic (official), French, English, Armenian
Source: U.S. Central Intelligence Agency World Factbook 2016