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Reports: Hezbollah Gains Seats in Lebanon Parliamentary Election

Lebanese media citing unofficial preliminary results reported Monday that Iran-backed Hezbollah was set to make gains in parliamentary elections with the party of Prime Minister Saad Hariri losing seats.

Officials results were expected later Monday for the country's first national election in nine years.

The voter turnout was 49.2 percent, down from 54 percent in 2009, according to Lebanon's Interior Ministry.

The 2009 parliamentary election was held for what was supposed to be a four-year term. But the outbreak of a civil war in neighboring Syria forced the parliament to extend its term twice, due to security concerns.

Eighty-six women are running for seats in Lebanon's 128-member parliament that is equally divided between Muslims and Christians.

Ahead of the vote, a result with Hezbollah and its allies adding more seats while Hariri lost several was expected. Some of Hariri's Sunni supporters see him as being too soft on Hezbollah. The billionaire businessman has also faced criticism after laying off scores of employees from his companies in Lebanon and Saudi Arabia.

Still, Hariri likely will be named to form a national unity Cabinet. The rival sides are expected to re-create the unity government that currently exists, which includes Hezbollah.

Source: Voice of America