Grassroots campaign tackles entrenched parties in Lebanon poll

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BEIRUT: Lebanese voters headed to the polls for the first time in six years Sunday for municipal elections including in Beirut, where a new grassroots campaign is taking on entrenched parties. It is the first election of any kind in Lebanon since the last municipal polls in 2010, in a country with a deeply divided political scene that has not had a president for the past two years nor voted for a parliament since 2009. Voters trickled to polling stations in Beirut and in two provinces of the Bekaa region in the first stage of an election to last until May 29 in five other provinces. By the time polls closed at 1600 GMT turnout in the capital was weak, Interior Minister Nohad Machnouk said. He told reporters that turnout in Beirut was estimated at around 20 percent while it was much higher in the Bekaa region, dominated by the Shiite movement Hezbollah, at around 50 percent.

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