Copy of 2022-05-16T172043Z_136608344_RC2H8U9I3LH8_RTRMADP_3_LEBANON-ELECTION-1652776112632
An electoral worker sits next to boxes as Lebanese await the official election results for the rest of the districts in Lebanon's parliamentary election, at the Justice Palace in Jdeideh on May 16, 2022. Image Credit: REUTERS

United Nations: UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called on Lebanon to form an “inclusive government” to tackle the country’s economic crisis, after elections held over the weekend, his office said Monday.

Guterres “looks forward to the swift formation of an inclusive government that can finalise the agreement with the International Monetary Fund and accelerate the implementation of reforms necessary to set Lebanon on the path to recovery,” his office said in a statement.

The UN chief also called on the country’s new parliament “to urgently adopt all legislation necessary to stabilise the economy and improve governance.”

He stressed the need for Lebanon’s “political leaders to work jointly with the best interest of Lebanon and the Lebanese people in mind.”

Turnout was particularly low in Sunni-dominated areas mostly inhabited by Sunnis - one of the main communities in the country governed by a political system based on communal power-sharing.

Iran-backed Hezbollah and its allies are likely to lose their majority in parliament, three sources allied to the group said on Monday, in a major blow to the heavily armed faction that reflected widespread anger at ruling parties.

Sunday’s election - the first since Lebanon’s financial collapse and the Beirut port blast of 2020 - also produced wins for the Saudi-aligned Lebanese Forces (LF), a Christian party, and reform-minded candidates across sects.

Their breakthroughs, however, could fracture parliament into several camps and polarise it more sharply between Hezbollah’s allies and opponents. Those opponents are not currently united into a single bloc. The deadlock could derail reforms required to unlock support from the International Monetary Fund to ease Lebanon’s economic crisis and delay parliamentary decisions on a speaker, a premier to form a Cabinet, and a new president later this year.

Preliminary results indicate a reversal of Lebanon’s last election in 2018, when Hezbollah and its allies won 71 of parliament’s 128 seats, pulling Lebanon deeper into the orbit of Iran.

Sunday’s result could open the door for Riyadh to exercise greater sway in Beirut, long an arena of its rivalry with Tehran.

There was no immediate comment from Saudi Arabia, but Iran on Monday said it respected the vote and had never intervened in Lebanon’s internal affairs.

The United States, which has imposed sanctions on Hezbollah, welcomed the elections and encouraged politicians to recommit to economic reforms.

The interior ministry has announced results for 12 of the 15 districts, but several parties said they would be submitting appeals.