Thousands of Lebanese expatriates got their first chance ever to vote in one of their country’s parliamentary elections, an event that is itself a rarity, seeing as this year’s vote is the first in almost a decade.
“I am very proud to witness through the screen at the Foreign Ministry the first (expat) voting in Lebanon’s history,” Foreign Minister Jubran Bassil said via Twitter earlier in the day.
Yesterday’s voting took place in the Lebanese diplomatic missions of six Arab countries: Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates,
Kuwait, Qatar and Oman, the Lebanese Foreign Ministry said Thursday.
The state-run National News Agency said turnout reached 54.4 % by yesterday evening, with 6,875 out of the 12,615 registered voters in six Arab countries having cast their ballots.
“It was no small matter that Lebanon was holding expatriate voting in more than 40 countries,” Lebanese president Michel Aoun, who visited the Lebanese Foreign Ministry where the elections were monitored, said.
Nearly 83,000 Lebanese expatriates across the world have registered to vote, according to official figures.
Lebanese citizens living in other countries will cast their ballots tomorrow, while eligible voters inside Lebanon will cast ballots on May 6, in the country’s first legislative polls since 2009.
The election was postponed three times due to wrangling among political factions about a new electoral law.
In June 2017, the parliament passed the law based on a proportional representation system.
It includes reformist ideas that have been raised by civic groups to improve parliamentary political representation in a 128-strong parliament with a four-year mandate.
The new law also allows Lebanese expatriates to cast their votes in diplomatic mission for the first time.
Members of Lebanon’s electoral commission monitor screens bearing images of embassies around the Middle East at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beirut, to check the electoral process as Lebanese expats start voting in the parliamentary elections, yesterday.