[FACTBOX] Main players in Lebanese elections
Lebanon goes to the polls on June 7 in a legislative election contested by two coalitions whose rivalry has dominated national politics since the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri. Independent politicians will also run.
The two blocs are the anti-Syrian "March 14" alliance, led by Sunni politician Saad al-Hariri, and the rival "March 8" coalition, including Hezbollah, the Shiite opposition group that has a powerful military group.
Following are the main players:
MARCH 14 ALLIANCE
The anti-Syrian March 14 alliance won a parliamentary majority in a 2005 election. Its name is derived from a mass protest held in Beirut a month after Hariri's assassination to demand an end to Syrian influence in Lebanon.
Its main components are:
*FUTURE MOVEMENT- SAAD AL-HARIRI
Chosen to assume his father's political mantle in 2005, Hariri is Lebanon's most influential Sunni Muslim politician. Hariri, 39, has led March 14 through four years of confrontation with rival factions backed by Damascus. A billionaire businessman, Hariri enjoys firm backing from Saudi Arabia and the United States.
*PROGRESSIVE SOCIALIST PARTY- WALID JUMBLATT
Lebanon's most influential Druze leader, Jumblatt, 59, has led the Progressive Socialist Party since the assassination of his father, Kamal, in 1977. Once an ally of Damascus, Jumblatt moved firmly into the anti-Syrian camp in 2004. He has recently adopted a more conciliatory position than his March 14 allies.
*LEBANESE FORCES- SAMIR GEAGEA
Geagea, who heads the Lebanese Forces party, is a Maronite Christian and the only leader from the 1975-90 civil war to go to jail, serving 11 years for political killings. He was released in 2005. He declared himself a political prisoner. Geagea, 57, is not a candidate in the election, though his wife, Sethrida is running.
*PHALANGE PARTY- AMIN GEMAYEL
Gemayel, 65, leads the Maronite-dominated Phalange Party. He served as president from 1982 to 1988. He took office after the assassination of his brother Bashir, an ally of Israel who had been elected president but was killed before he could take office. Gemayel is not running in the election, but his son Sami and nephew Nadim are candidates. Gemayel's eldest son, Pierre, an MP and government minister, was assassinated in 2006.
MARCH 8 ALLIANCE
The March 8 alliance coalesced in response to anti-Syrian protests that swept Lebanon after Hariri's killing. It is named after a rally held on March 8, 2005 to show support for Syria. Christian politician Michel Aoun joined the alliance in 2006.
Its main components are:
*HEZBOLLAH- SAYYED HASSAN NASRALLAH
Hezbollah is a Shiite Islamist group formed after Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon and backed by Iran and Syria. Its power rests on its formidable guerrilla army, as well as its network of social and charitable activities. The United States lists it as a terrorist organization but they are widely considered as the nation's strongest resistance against Israeli aggression. Hezbollah's secretary-general is Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, 48. He is not running for parliament, where Hezbollah's bloc is headed by Mohammad Raad.
*AMAL MOVEMENT- NABIH BERRI
Speaker of parliament since 1992, Amal leader Nabih Berri occupies the highest position reserved for a Shiite in Lebanon's sectarian power-sharing system. Berri, 71, has led Amal since 1978 when the Shiite group's Iranian-born founder, Imam Musa Sadr, disappeared on a visit to Libya. Berri has long been viewed as one of Syria's closest allies in Lebanon.
*FREE PATRIOTIC MOVEMEN- MICHEL AOUN
Aoun, 74, returned from exile in France in 2005 to win more seats than any other Christian leader in that year's parliamentary election. Once one of the toughest opponents of Syrian influence in Lebanon, he struck an alliance with Hezbollah in 2006 and turned the page on a history of conflict with Damascus in 2008 when he visited Syria. A former army commander, Aoun served as prime minister from 1988 to 1990 in one of two competing governments until Syrian forces drove him from the presidential palace.
*MARADA MOVEMENT- SULEIMAN FRANJIEH
Franjieh, 43, a former interior minister, is a close personal friend of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Franjieh's father, mother and sister were killed by Christian gunmen in 1978 as part of a power struggle among Christian factions at the time. Franjieh's grandfather, also called Suleiman Franjieh, was president of Lebanon from 1970-76.
Mikati, 53, is a Sunni billionaire businessman from the northern city of Tripoli, where he is running as an independent on a coalition list including March 14 figures. He briefly served as prime minister in 2005, running a government that oversaw the last legislative election. He describes his ties with both Syria and Saudi Arabia as good and is seen as a frontrunner to become prime minister again.
Murr, another wealthy businessman, is a Greek Orthodox politician and former deputy prime minister. Driven by rivalry with Aoun, Murr, 77, has formed an electoral alliance with March 14 in the Christian Metn district, seen as potentially decisive in determining the majority. Murr's son, Elias, is defence minister and survived an assassination attempt in 2005.