Blog | June 9: Deborah Hakes Blogs From the 2009 Lebanon Parliamentary Elections

Deborah Hakes is assistant director of public information for The Carter Center.

I’ve been sharing my experiences with you from Lebanon for the past week and thought it was also important to share a few of the many other voices whose hard work made the election observation mission possible:

Robyn Olejnilzak (short-term observer and former intern) The highlight of this election mission in Lebanon was watching the sun set over the Mediterranean while monitoring the counting of ballots in El Gaziye near Saida. It was the perfect backdrop for an integral moment in this country’s transition.

Bujar Halo (long-term observer) What struck me was the high level of patience shown by the Shia voters in the southern suburbs while waiting in the queue for a long time; a high percentage of participation by women in the Christian community in the central region; and clear procedures followed by the Druze in the north characterized the election day in Baabda region.

Maša Janjušević (long-term observer coordinator) On the first day I came to Beirut, in April 2009, someone asked me how it looked to me and I said,” Like the Balkans and the Middle East.” One of the first things I noticed was the friendliness of people, the straightforwardness of Arab hospitality, and its social complexities. I do love tiny everyday freedoms, which in Lebanon are imposed by the state, society, culture, and family.

Nathan Scott (short-term observer and assistant director, Conflict Resolution Program) I was deployed as part of a two-person team in Bcharre district. I was very impressed by the organization of the poll workers.  I feel that the result reflected the choice of the voters and I think the elections were a step forward for Lebanese democracy.

David Carroll (director, Democracy Program) As Democracy Program director, I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to meet and work with former Prime Minister al-Eryani, who impressed the whole Carter Center team with his deep knowledge of Lebanon and the Middle East region, as well as his commitment to democracy and human rights, and finally because of his personal warmth and easy-going manner.

James Rogerson (security adviser) This whole experience has helped me understand the mechanics of an election process.  The highlight for me was the organization and friendship between numerous cultures and nationalities within The Carter Center and how everybody pulled together and made it work. Having worked within Lebanon–and having been a frequent visitor to this country–it was great to see the Lebanese people being allowed the opportunity to choose, for once, their own destiny.  It is a major step forward.

Adolfo Cayuso (field office director) It´s not all about work and performance. Sometimes it´s about luck, patience, good will, and tolerance. Today President Carter congratulated the field office for the work done.   I was especially happy for my team. They deserve all the merit. After a few months of very hard work, strain, and some frustration, we are able to start everyday with greetings, jokes, and smiles. Thank you Delphine, Paulyna, Maya, Elie, Wissam, Gaëlle, Masa, Jim, Jamal, Marwan, and Nora.

Amber Charles (assistant program coordinator, Democracy Program)  On an election mission, the hours, the stress, the 24/7 phone calls can sometimes make you question your sanity, but give it a day or two and the moments start becoming what you care about: the voter you see cast a ballot for the first time, the ability to involve yourself in one of the most fundamental human freedoms, the sentence you wrote that was spoken out of President Carter’s mouth, those are the parts of an election observation mission you remember.

Sarah Johnson (assistant director, Democracy Program) I’ve been working for the past several months to organize the Lebanon observation mission from Atlanta. My responsibilities included hiring staff, helping to brief and deploy long-term observers, and preparing the short-term observation mission. There was much anticipation leading up to election day, both on the part of our team and observers, as well as among Lebanese voters. Ultimately, our mission and the elections proceeded smoothly.

Avery Davis-Roberts (senior program associate, Democracy Program) These elections were the tenth that I have observed. Although I didn’t get to go out on election day because I was taking calls from delegates who were reporting their observations to the mission, it was exciting to be part of the process. The elections in Lebanon were important because a number of reforms were made to make the electoral process more transparent.

Narsay Bello (intern)   The experience of meeting people from the streets of Lebanon was not only a pleasure culturally but also very enlightening in terms of the political feelings of the people. In general, I’d like to think that the Carter Center contributed to the continued peace, democracy, and stability of Lebanon.

Marwan Rowayheb (political adviser) Spending election day with President Jimmy Carter made me understand the real reason that made this great man a man of peace. I learned from him that people should always be modest no matter what positions they acquire in their lives. Furthermore, working with the Carter Center’s Lebanon team, under the leadership of Adolfo, made me appreciate the fact that working in a team is the major prerequisite for achieving the impossible.

Alex Blackman (intern)  Some days I never left the hotel office and other days I was driving around the entire country. I won’t miss the late nights and early mornings, but it was great to be part of such an amazing team, experiencing a historical moment in an incredible country.

Carter Center Deploys Election Observation Delegation to Lebanon’s June 7, 2009,
Parliamentary Elections >>

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