Bint Jbeil – As Hezbollah speeches and guerrilla songs blared from roving cars, the people of southern Lebanon voted on Sunday in parliamentary elections that the Shiite militant group sees as a referendum on its increasing political power and a response to what it calls American intervention in Lebanon.
The guerrillas and their allies are all but guaranteed a sweep of the 23 seats up for grabs in this region bordering Israel. But despite the group’s appeals to send a strong signal to Washington, low turnout in some areas marred the expected victory.
“All the south came out today to send a clear message to the Americans that they embrace the resistance (Hezbollah’s) weapons and that they are independent in their decision and they are not subservient to international resolutions,” Sheik Nabil Kaouk, Hezbollah’s commander in southern Lebanon, told reporters shortly after voting began in Sunday’s second phase of four-stage parliamentary elections…
Those citizens who did vote expressed strong support for Hezbollah, the guerrilla group that fought Israel during an 18-year occupation.
“We should show our support for the resistance and those who were martyred for the sake of liberating this country,” a smiling Kamel Hamka, 77, said as he walked out of a polling station in Bint Jbeil, a Shiite town a few kilometres from the Israeli border.
Outside a polling station in the town’s center, veiled young women Hezbollah activists distributed candidate lists and cars blared guerrilla songs and speeches from loudspeakers to encourage voters.
“The people’s participation in the elections is a vote for the resistance and its weapons,” said Hassan Fadlallah, a Hezbollah candidate allied with Amal…