The Syrian-backed opposition in Lebanon won an important electoral victory Sunday, as its candidate won one of two races held to replace members of Parliament murdered over the past year. Both of the victims were strong supporters of the Western-backed government.
The outcome is a blow to the current government — many Lebanese viewed the vote as a test of who might become Lebanon's next president, when the current head of state's term ends in November.
In Lebanon's complex power-sharing system, the post of president is reserved for the Maronite Christians.
The slim margin of victory for opposition leader Michel Aoun's candidate, who was facing former President Amin Gemayel, exposed deep divisions within the Christian community.
At polling stations in Christian neighborhoods Sunday, activists from rival factions faced off, honking car horns, waving flags, and trying to drown each other out by blaring political anthems from p.a. systems placed side by side.