Speaking at a news conference in Beirut on Wednesday, the Druze opposition leader said he was campaigning to protect the resistance group.

"This alliance was formed to protect the resistance movement … I have stressed the necessity of inter-Lebanese talks … in order to solve all problems and protect the resistance," Jumblatt said.
 
"We stress the need for talks - talks that start from the Babda coast to al-Hadath and to the mounts of Alai and Babda.

"I cannot understand why some parties do not want negotiations. They want to ignore all other sides to remain and act alone in the field. This is illogical," he said.
 
Consequences

The alliance may make Jumblatt, the Socialist Progressive Party chief, favourite to win the most keenly contested constituency in Lebanon.

But the result is not a foregone conclusion, as the ballot in Mount Lebanon's Babda-Alai district on 12 June pits him against Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun.

Aoun takes on Jumblatt in polls
scheduled on 12 June

And as electioneering heats up, the anti-Syria Aoun has allied himself with a pro-Syrian Druze leader Talal Arslan to improve his chances.

Candidate comment

Hizb Allah has not publicly confirmed its new alliance with Jumblatt's party, but one candidate from the resistance organisation dismissed any suggestion that supporters may object to the political arrangement.

Hizb Allah candidate Hassan Hiballah told Aljazeera.net on Wednesday that even though Jumblatt's party was also allied with the Christian Lebanese Forces - which cooperated with Israel during the occupation - their electorate would remain faithful to the party.

"This is not the first time Hizb Allah has aligned itself to groups that at different stages of their development have been diametrically opposed to our policies," he said, giving the example of an alliance with Christian phalangist Elie Hubaika.

"This alliance is in the best interests of Hizb Allah at this time," he added.