- Title: 'Seven' political party aims to bring about change in Lebanon
- Date: 16th November 2016
- Summary: BEIRUT, LEBANON (NOVEMBER 10, 2016) (REUTERS) WALL ON ENTRANCE OF SABAA OFFICES TITLE READING 'SABAA' (ARABIC FOR 'SEVEN') WITH THE NUMBER 7 IN ARABIC REPLACING A LETTER
- Embargoed: 1st December 2016 11:21
- Keywords: party Sabaa political party Beirut
- Location: BEIRUT, LEBANON
- City: BEIRUT, LEBANON
- Country: Lebanon
- Topics: Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA00258OYLAT
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:A new independent political party called 'Sabaa' is surfacing in Lebanon, slowly rising among the main sectarian parties with the hope of changing how the political system works in the country.
'Sabaa' - Arabic for 'Seven' is founded by a group of young Lebanese activists who believe there is a need for a party which is "beyond religions and for every citizen," according to spokesman Assaad Doueihi.
"It is not personalised, nor for a family and without a president - it is based on a participatory democracy that is very important," he said at the organisation's offices in Beirut branded with the party's purple colour and logo.
A picture of a group of small fish attacking a big fish is emblazoned on a wall - a metaphor for the stance the party takes.
"We are doing this because there is a big need for it. All parties in Lebanon are sectarian, feudal with one leader for whom everyone works like employees. The difference in Sabaa that it is not like this, it is a political platform for everyone who likes to participate in public affairs for them to use as a tool to make their voice heard more effectively and make changes in an effective way. It won't be monopolised by a person or a family like it is the case in all other parties,'' explained one of the party founders Lucien Bou Rjeili.
Many in Sabaa are activists who took to the streets of central Beirut in July last year, protesting a build-up of festering rubbish after a main landfill site for garbage was shut.
The massive protests were unprecedented for having been mobilized independently of the big sectarian parties that dominate Lebanese politics.
In the streets of the capital, news of a new political party was met with mixed reactions.
"There is already a division in the country, and every time you have a new party, this division will increase," said one Lebanese citizen called Mazen.
"I am with the formation of new parties that will be for all of Lebanon, beyond religions, with a certain awareness for the political, economic and social problems in Lebanon and representing youth in the parliament and cabinet. So yes, I am with (the formation of new parties) but not with all these movements emerging from civil society, choosing a random colour every day and doing nothing but prolonging the current power - I am with the formation of new parties that will make a change," said another citizen, Mayada Abdallah.
Bou Rjeili and Doueihi both insisted Sabaa aims to be for all Lebanese, from across the country and from all faiths.
According to the founders the party is funded by members and will soon be launching a fundraising campaign.
Doueihi added that hundreds of people had already contacted them to express an interest in joining the party.
Last month the Lebanese parliament elected former army commander Michel Aoun as president, ending a 29-month presidential vacuum in a political deal that secured victory for his Lebanese Shi'ite ally Hezbollah, Iran and Syria.
Lebanese are desperate for better government to deal with problems in the economy, infrastructure and basic services that came to a head last year with a garbage crisis that left rubbish to pile up in the streets, creating a public health crisis.
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