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Presidential candidate may click with Lebanese

Times Staff Writer

Lebanese politics are notoriously cumbersome and convoluted. On Monday, squabbling politicians again delayed a decision on choosing a new president, this time putting it off until Nov. 12. The deadline before the country is hurtled into a constitutional crisis is Nov. 24, when President Emile Lahoud is scheduled to step down.

But while the Lebanese have been slow to pick a president, they have been quick to take on new fads -- especially Facebook. The social networking website has rapidly taken on a life of its own among the outgoing and chatty Lebanese.

Lebanese have headed to Facebook with enthusiasm. The website’s Lebanon network includes 125,000 members, about one for every 32 residents of the country. For comparison’s sake, Israel has about 90,000 Facebookers, or one for every 70 residents, while gigantic Egypt has 180,000, or one for every 437 residents.

Lebanese Facebookers include grandmothers, scuba divers and sports car drivers. Neither men nor women are too shy to show off exposed bellies, sultry pouts or bare shoulders.

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And now, one of the main contenders for the Lebanese presidency, Nassib Lahoud, has brought his candidacy to Facebook. His online group, “Nassib Lahoud for President,” has drawn 2,500 members.

An interview in his East Beirut office on Monday began with 45 minutes of serious talk about Lebanon’s politics. But Nassib Lahoud, who is Emile Lahoud’s cousin, smiled with glee when the subject of Facebook came up.

“I guess we Lebanese,” he said, “are very extroverted.”

daragahi@latimes.com

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