(AhlulBayt News Agency) - Sheikh Abdel-Amir Qabalan was elected Thursday as the head of Lebanon’s Higher Islamic Shiite Council.
The Council, whose founder is Imam Moussa Sadr, has the duty to defend rights of Shiites in Lebanon and probe into their religious and personal affairs.
Sheikh Ali al-Khatib was elected the first deputy head and Mahir Khalil Hussein the second deputy head of the Council.
Sheikh Qabalan is a staunch supporter of the resistance movement in Lebanon.
This is the first election held by the highest Shiite religious authority in Lebanon since 2001, following the death of Sheikh Mohammad Mehdi Shamseddine. The court issues rulings on religious matters and oversees civil status laws within the sect, including presiding over matrimonial ceremonies, divorces and custody disputes.
On Feb. 28, Parliament decided to “extend the term of both the executive and legislative councils in the Higher Shiite Council, fill the vacancies therein and amend some of the council’s laws.”
Shamseddine was elected first deputy president of the council in September 1975, and again following Imam Musa Sadr’s disappearance in August 1978.
He was then elected president of the Higher Shiite Council on March 18, 1993.
Qabalan’s election was the result of an agreement between representatives of major Shiite powers, Hezbollah and the Amal Movement.
Sheikh Ali al-Khatib was elected as Qabalan’s deputy.