Melhem Khalaf wins Beirut Bar Association elections. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: In a major win for Lebanon’s protest movement, experienced lawyer Melhem Khalaf, was elected to head the Beirut Bar Association.

His victory is significant because it is the first time the association will be run by a candidate without any political affiliations.

Immediately after announcing the results, aired live on local television, lawyers gathering at the Justice Palace in Beirut broke out in song and celebration.

“Revolution, revolution,” they shouted much like anti-government protesters who have gathered in public squares across Lebanon since Oct. 17.

Lawyers then recited together the national anthem.

Khalaf won with 2,341 votes against Nader Gaspard.

“We hope that the joyful scene we have witnessed today would extend to the whole country for the establishment of democracy and the renewal of the spirit of institutions, which should protect the citizens,” Khalaf said.

He stressed that the Bar Association would protect “public freedoms and human rights.”

Khalaf’s win is so far the biggest blow to the ruling authority which has resisted calls for real change.

Former Minister Boutros Harb said that Khalaf’s victory “proved the overwhelming majority of our people reject the rule of mafias”.

On his part, MP Sami Gemayel said that “the train of change is on the right track” following Khalaf’s win.