Election Day (fuck the French!)
Before going to Beirut to watch the elections we go to the city of Saida. we start at the unimpressive ruin of the chateau d’eau that lies in the small fishing port opposite of the medina. the leaflet provided to vistors by the ministry of tourism is identical in text with the section about this place in the lonely planet. would be interesting to know who copied from whom. the thought that future generations main source of historical information are the little boxed texts in the various editions of the lonely planet is already disturbing but if it should turn out that the official historical knowledge draws form the the same source this would be even more disturbing.
In Saida i find the first internet cafe, actually someone finds it for me as it is a little walk from the city center in a little side street. is more or less and empty room with a computers and one hour goes for £1000. as expected the connection is unbearably slow, a single website often takes ful 2 minutes to load. and this is while only 3 of the 8 terminals are occupied. It seems that it is going to be difficult to stay connected while being here.
Beirut is not much more lively than yesterday. the only places attracting crowds are the polling stations that have crowds of party activists in front of them. Hezbollah activists in yellow vests, the omnipresent Hariri fan-boys in white t-shirts with – surprise surprise – Hariri’s face on their chest. each polling station is guarded by a fire-truck, an ambulance, a platoon of soldiers – and in the christian areas of east Beirut – a armoured personel carrier with a mounted heavy machine gun. The atmosphere is relaxed, the different political factions mix while they hand out little flyers with the lists of candidates that their party supports (each party assembles lists of candidates that comply with the complicated confessional balance that is required by the constitution). The Hariri fans-boys also hand out little gifts (bottles of juice and water with the portrait of the late Hariri on them). Inside the polling station party activists continue to give advice to voters, the voters hoever seem to direct themselves to a representative of their party in order to be instructed. In all the polling rooms (there are 5 in the school that i enterd) there are at least 6 observers by the different parties that sit in the schoolbenches and make notes while the voters disappear behind a curtain to make make their choice. While the results of the vote will not be known till mid week…