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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Opposition Wins Seat In Lebanon

BEIRUT, Lebanon -- The Lebanese government suffered a blow Monday when a little-known opposition candidate defeated a former president in a tense parliamentary by-election that showed the divisions among the country's once-dominant Christians.

The vote Sunday to replace two assassinated anti-Syrian legislators turned into a showdown between the pro-U.S. government and opponents supported by Syria and Iran.

One seat, in Beirut, was won by a pro-government candidate who ran virtually unopposed. The second covers the Christian stronghold of Metn, north of Beirut, in which a political newcomer allied to Christian opposition leader Michel Aoun defeated Amin Gemayel, who was Lebanon's president from 1982 to 1988.

Lebanon has been locked for months in a political standoff between the government and opposition, which has also largely fallen along sectarian lines. Shiite Muslims, led by the pro-Syrian Hezbollah, are predominantly in the opposition while the Sunni Muslims form the backbone of the anti-Damascus ruling coalition.

Christians have been nearly evenly split between the camps. The fierce division was clear in Metn's vote. Before dawn Monday, Interior Minister Hassan Sabei announced the results, declaring Aoun's ally Kamil Khoury the victor by a margin of only 418 votes, with 39,534 votes against Gemayel's 39,116. Turnout was 46 percent.