Syria Claims Vote Fraud In Lebanon

This story was filed by CBS News' George Baghdadi, reporting from Damascus, Syria.

(AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
A government-run Syrian newspaper on Monday accused the Western-backed political coalition which won this weekend's parliamentary elections in neighboring Lebanon of rigging the vote.

"Buying of votes, accusations of election manipulations, shootings in some areas... were reported in yesterday's election in Lebanon," said the al-Baath daily — a mouthpiece of the ruling al-Baath Party, in a front-page roundup on Lebanon's Sunday vote.

"The election atmosphere wasn't void of security difficulties, amid accusations against the pro-government forces that they bought votes, offered bribes and committed forgery... on a large scale," it added.

The article claimed that these "atmospheres were sources for questions and concerns until late last night."

The other two state-run dailies, Tishreen and al-Thawra, made no direct comment on the Lebanese elections, publishing news items on the election process.

Meanwhile, al-Watan (The Nation), a Syrian independent daily, said in its front-page report that "political money had a say" — an apparent accusation that the U.S.-backed "March 14 coalition" had bought votes.

The paper claimed the coalition, which controlled the parliament going into the hotly contested election, had "dedicated big amounts of money in its endeavor to buy votes and bring the Lebanese expatriates from the U.S., Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Brazil and other countries into Lebanon to vote for their candidates."

Ahead of the vote, leaders in Israel and the West watched with anxiety as the political party/militant group Hezbollah seemed headed for victory in Lebanon — a situation which would have greatly complicated Washington's relationship with the country, as Hezbollah is labeled a terrorist group.

Most support of Hezbollah's support comes from Syria and Iran, but it is a potent political force in Lebanon — and will remain so despite their election loss on Sunday.