Voters in central and eastern Lebanon cast ballots on Sunday in a crucial round of elections to fill nearly half the seats in Beirut's 128-member parliament. I
n the Mount Lebanon region outside Beirut, voters chose 35 lawmakers from several Muslim and Christian factions. Twenty-three seats in the eastern Bekaa Valley were also to be filled. Preliminary results are expected Monday. Seats were split almost evenly in the first two rounds of staggered polls between pro-Syrian, anti-Israeli Hezbollah candidates and anti-Syrian hopefuls. A fourth and final stage of voting takes place next Sunday. The polls are the first since Syrian military forces were withdrawn from Lebanon in April, two months after the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafk Hariri. The Lebanese opposition and a host of foreign governments blamed the February 14th killing on Beirut and its Syrian allies, despite denials from both capitals.