Aoun becomes new president of Beirut Order of Physicians
FPM member seeks to improve social situation of doctors amid current
By Nada Raad -Daily Star staff
Monday, May 31, 2004
BEIRUT: In the second round of voting Sunday, some 1,550 out of 2,341
physicians elected FPM member Mario Aoun as the new president of The
Beirut Order of Physicians in a heated electoral battle against his
opponent candidate Samir Mallat, who is supported by Hizbullah. Aoun will
replace out-going president Mahmoud Shouqair. Mallat, meeting the
requirement for presidential candidacy as a continuing member of the
order's committee, received around 740 votes during the elections, held at
the order's headquarters in Tehwita. In the first round of voting, which
was held earlier Sunday, 3003 physicians elected eight new members of the
order's committee, as well as four new members to the disciplinary
committee, and three members to the retirement fund.
Aoun received! the most votes in the first round with 1,593. Other
candidates included: Nabil Kharrat (983 votes), Sami Raychouni (1,054
votes), Amir Abdel-Nour (975 votes) and Abdel-Hamid Hashisho (1,000 votes),
who ran on Aoun's list; an unsupported candidate, Maryam Rajji (979 votes);
and Maher Hamzeh (968 votes) and Mohammad Arnaqout (950), both on Mallat's
list. Previously eight candidates were running for the order's presidency
but Sunday's second round election was a battle between Mallat and Aoun.
Hikmat Husseini, supported by the National Bloc, and unsupported
candidates Fouad Boustani, Georges Nassar and Nazih al-Adem withdrew from
the election battle last week. Additionally, candidate Michel Abou
Abdallah, he was not eligible to continue his campaign after a sweeping
loss in the first round election getting only around 400 votes out of the
Furthermore, the late withdrawal of unsupported candidate Hilal Waked
Sunday - already a member of the orders' committee - was ! expected due to
the poor presence of his supporters on the ground.
Aoun said he wants to improve the social situation of physicians here,
amid the dire economic crisis."The first problem faced by all physicians
is their relationship with the insurance companies and the National Social
Security Fund," Aoun told The Daily Star before his election.
He said that a physician gets LL600,000 when he retires, while a
pharmacist gets LL1.8 million. "I also want to answer all the pending
questions concerning the cost spent on the order's headquarters," which he
said is an outrageous issue.
Most of the candidates running for the order's presidency were supported
by political parties, which according to Aoun, is a dangerous trend as the
order's president should not be "politically affiliated."
"Until Saturday evening most of the lists supported by political parties
had not yet agreed on the candidates," Aoun said, adding: "Despite my
affiliation with the FPM, I consider myse! lf a doctor first".
On Saturday, both the Future Movement and the Progressive Socialist Party,
which supported Abou Abdallah, withdrew their candidates from the election
as an attempt to "avoid participating in a confessional battle."
A statement released by the Future Movement said: "We had agreed with
members of the physician's committee at the Amal Movement and the
Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) to enter the election. We were surprised
that some physicians breeched our agreement which was based on the support
of a list headed by Abou Abdallah."
Similarly, the PSP issued a statement that said: "Based on the political
background that became known by everyone, we hold responsible the parties
who switched their positions at the last minute.
Abou Abdallah, who is also supported by the National Liberal Party and the
Amal Movement, said on Sunday that he is not supported by any particular
party but by "all physicians."
Additionally, the number of representative! s elected to the three-year
term on The Beirut Order of Physicians' committee was increased from 12-16
this year. In Lebanon, there are around 9,000 physicians out of which