Lebanon holds pivotal elections

TEHRAN, May 09 (MNA) – Lebanese expatriates headed to polling stations on Friday and Sunday across the world to cast their votes in parliamentary elections projected to maintain the current political array.

The second phase of the Out of Country Voting in the parliamentary elections started Sunday in 48 countries, with the participation of 194,348 Lebanese expatriates, according to the official Lebanese news agency. The first phase of the elections was held on Friday in nine Arab countries and in Iran.

More than 225,000 people have registered to vote abroad, a jump from roughly 92,000 in the 2018 elections -- though only 50,000 of them voted at the time, according to AFP. 

Lebanese voters residing in Iran flocked to the Lebanese embassy in Tehran to cast their votes. The Lebanese ambassador in Tehran, Hassan Abbas, confirmed that the voting process went smoothly and without obstacles. The number of voters in Iran exceeded 65%, or 422 out of 642 voters, according to UNews. Iran was the first country to open polling stations to Lebanese voters at the Lebanese embassy at 6:30 am Beirut time.

Voter turnout among Lebanese expatriates in the first phase of the election was at about 59 percent, according to estimates offered by Lebanese Foreign Minister Abdullah Bu Habib.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun visited the headquarters of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to see the progress of the polling process abroad, congratulating the election supervisors on the accomplishment of their tasks. Aoun expressed hope that the elections would pass in all its phases without problems.

“Efforts undertaken to complete the elections abroad are not easy, and we hope that things will improve in the next elections and be easier than today and that each voter will have a password to vote from his home, and we hope that the elections will end without problems,” he said on Twitter. 

The Lebanese foreign minister also paid a visit to the control room at the ministry in a bid to oversee the process of voting. “We are in constant contact with embassies and consulates, and we want the elections to be conducted with integrity and transparency,” he said, adding that ballot boxes will begin to arrive in Beirut after the polling stations are closed. 

Bu Habib announced that the voter turnout in the first phase of the elections was 59.45%, adding that there are 3 countries where the voter turnout is above 70%, namely Iran, Bahrain and Syria. He said in Iraq it is 48%, and in Egypt, it is less than 50%. As for the rest of the countries, the voter turnout was above 60%, he said. 

The elections will be held at home on 15 May. 103 electoral lists comprising 718 candidates distributed over 15 electoral districts are competing in the elections to elect 128 deputies in Parliament.

The elections are being held for the first time since Lebanon began plunging into an economic meltdown nearly three years ago which sparked nationwide protests and led to the overthrow of two prime ministers, namely Saad Hariri and Hassan Diab. 

The dire economic situation has tempted many political factions and foreign countries to exploit the economic woes to vote out the current leaders. But experts said this was unlikely as opposition candidates are disunited, inexperienced and short on cash, according to AFP. 

First published in Tehran Times

News Code 186567


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