Lebanon is divided into the five provinces ( muhafazat ) of Beirut, North Lebanon, South Lebanon, Bekaa, Mount Lebanon, and Nabatiye, each with its district administration. The muhafazat are subdivided into districts ( aqdiya ), municipalities, and villages. Provincial governors and district chiefs are appointed by presidential decree. In most villages, councils of village elders or heads of families or clans still play a considerable role.
Municipal elections had not been held since 1963, despite widespread civil desire for such elections. In 1995, parliament passed a law extending the term of municipal officers until 31 December 1996, after which elections were slated to be held. Municipal elections were held in May and June 1998. Fifty-four municipal councils and 169 mukhtar or mayors were elected. Seventy-eight seats were won by women on the new municipal councils.