As the Lebanese parliamentary elections near during a period of great economic and political turmoil in the country, members of Lebanese society from all walks of life are becoming politically active and running for office.
One such example is Layal Nehme, an independent candidate running in Batroun’s 3rd Northern District on the Lebanese Forces list.
Nehme, born in Tannourine, is a married mother of five with a varied background in public relations, media, and music.
Layal was born into a family of musicians. Her love for preserving culture and tradition led her to concentrate on performing the Lebanese, Aramaic, Traditional & Modern Oriental, and Andalusian genre in many concerts across the MENA region and Europe.
She holds a Masters of Sciences in Social Politics and in Social Development from the Lebanese University – Ecole Doctorale. Nehme also studied Arts in Music at the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik (USEK).
She began her career in media and television at Tele Lumiere-Noursat and TRT Arabia. Later, she managed the Department of Career and Services at The Notre Dame University—Louaize (NDU), a private Catholic university in Zouk Mosbeh, Lebanon, where she trained students and alumni in career development and promoted job opportunities.
Nehme was also a social worker at Labora, a Lebanese non-governmental organization that encourages people to have an effective contribution in nation building through public sector institutions.
Subsequently, she worked as Manager of Communications and Human Resources at Valoores, a technology and consulting firm.
Lebanese Forces is a Christian-based political party and former militia founded in 1976 Pierre and Bachir Gemayel, Camille Chamoun, and other party leaders during the Lebanese Civil War. It is the second largest Christian party in Lebanon with 15 of the 64 Christian seats in parliament.
Political tensions between Lebanese Forces and Hezbollah have been increasing in recent years. In 2020, in Beirut’s Al-Naba’a neighborhood, supporters of both parties engaged in acts of symbolic violence, namely the burning of opposing political symbols.
By 2021, symbolic violence finally boiled over into physical violence when armed supporters of Hezbollah and the Amal Movement marched towards Christian neighborhoods in the Tayouneh area during protests against the judge overseeing the investigation into the Beirut port explosion — an investigation that has been reported as “turning over dangerous stones”. Several people were left dead after clashes erupted.
Sovereign Front for Lebanon
The Lebanese Forces party is a member of the Sovereign Front for Lebanon. Formed on 29 September 2021, the Front includes some twenty civil society organizations, public personalities, and political parties such as Lebanese Forces, the National Liberal Party, the Universal Syriac Union Party (USUP), and the Cedar Guardians. The aim of the Front is to combat Hezbollah’s control over Lebanon and to reveal Hezbollah’s connections to Iran.
USUP head Ibrahim Mrad affirmed the party’s support for all Lebanese Forces candidates in the upcoming parliamentary elections to remove Hezbollah’s “Christian cover” afforded to it by its alliance with other Christian political parties.
Mrad stated that the USUP and Lebanese Forces, as well as the other Sovereign Front parties, share the common goal of establishing a new system in Lebanon that preserves the identity and privacy of Christians. “For us, the Lebanese Forces are the main defenders of Lebanon as a sovereign entity. Without the Lebanese Forces, Lebanon will be further occupied and looted,” he said.