Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah claimed victory on Monday in national elections held after nearly a decade, reports say.
Its main rival, Saudi-backed Future Movement, lost a third of its seats.
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah called the election results a great political and moral victory that legitimises its military branch.
Nasrallah’s party may not be able to increase its tally from 13 in the 128-seat parliament but it will have the support of allies to foil rival parties’ moves to make it lay down arms.
Future Movement’s leader and incumbent Prime Minister Saad Hariri (pictured) said his party was betting on a better result. According to him, his party won 21 seats, a drop from the 33 it had in the outgoing legislature.
After the election setback, Hariri may find it an uphill task to form a government. The constitution stipulates that parliament is equally split between Muslims and Christians, whose biggest party, led by President Michel Aoun, has been a Hezbollah ally.