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Lebanese election not without controversy -

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Lebanese election not without controversy

Reporter: Matt Brown

TONY JONES: For 30 years, Lebanese elections took place under the watchful eye of the Syrian
occupation troops. Now the troops are gone, but that hasn't meant an election without controversy.
Hopes of mounting a strong opposition to the pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud have been dealt a
blow by a former Lebanese Army General who's split the Christian vote. Our Middle East
correspondent Matt Brown reports from Beirut.

MATT BROWN: After 14 years in exile, a former General has emerged as the new Christian powerbroker
in Lebanon. Michel Aoun scored a stunning victory in the Lebanese elections on the weekend. His
candidates made an almost clean sweep of the Christian Maronite stronghold north-east of Beirut. In
one fell swoop, this former artillery commander has thrown the future of Lebanon into turmoil.

MICHEL AOUN, CHRISTIAN LEADER: It's going very well. It's a good climate.

MATT BROWN: This is the first election in Lebanon since the withdrawal of Syrian troops after three
decades of meddling and occupation. And the anti-Syrian Opposition, led by Druze veteran Walid
Jumblatt, needed to make a strong showing to keep the influence of their much larger neighbour at
bay. Before he went into exile, Michel Aoun launched a revolt to oust the Syrians from Lebanon by
force. But in his bid for power, Michel Aoun has split the anti-Syrian ranks and joined forces with
pro-Syrian candidates to score a political coup.

WALID JUMBLATT, DRUZE LEADER: We need a new Lebanon, stable Lebanon. Somebody else who came from
Paris is trying to steal our victory.

MATT BROWN: This was the third and most important poll in a four-part election process, and
Lebanese voters are hoping the polls will usher in a new era after so many years of hardship and
occupation. "We've lived a long time with pain and suffering", this man says. "Now the people can
vote freely, and we hope that the future will be good." But Michel Aoun's campaign and his recent
success have increased doubts about Lebanon's future. Now that the Syrians have withdrawn, Michel
Aoun says he will focus on fighting corruption and he's aiming his comments at his rivals in the
anti-Syrian Opposition who remained in the country under Syrian rule while he was in exile in
France. He's also increased the chances that Lebanon's pro-Syrian President could stay in power.

EMILE LAHOUD, LEBANESE PRESIDENT: According to my presidency, I'm staying to the last moment that I
have.

MATT BROWN: Lebanese voters will go to the polls again in the final round of the elections on
Sunday.