Polling in north marked by showdown in Tripoli

TRIPOLI, Lebanon (AP) — The second round of nationwide municipal elections, widely seen as launching a new chapter in Lebanon’s troubled history, turned into a showdown Sunday between the current prime minister and a former one.
Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and ex-Premier Omar Karami are not standing for election, but both have backed rival tickets in the port city of Tripoli, the country’s second largest city after the capital, Beirut.
The elections are set to fill 10,000 posts nationwide after the fourth and final round of voting in mid-June, and marks the first time major right-wing Christian groups have participated since the 1975-90 civil war.
Christian parties boycotted the 1992 and 1996 parliamentary elections to protest Syrian domination of Lebanon.
Nearly 600,000 people were eligible to vote Sunday across the North Province — including about 150,000 in Tripoli — to elect 2,247 mayors and village chiefs.
Figures for the turnout were not available when polls closed, and initial results are not expected until today.