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Lebanese parliamentary elections: Second phase of expat voting scheduled for Sunday

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s embassies in countries with a Sunday weekend have completed their arrangements for Lebanese expats to cast their votes in parliamentary elections.

There are over 190,000 Lebanese expats living in the UAE, the US, Australia, and across Europe and Africa who registered their names with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs months ago, out of the millions of Lebanese expats around the world.

The first phase of the Lebanese expat voting process in 10 Arab and Muslim countries ended on Friday night, with a final turnout of nearly 60 percent of registered voters.

Three opposition parties topped the general electoral scene, the Lebanese Phalange Party (Kataeb), the Progressive Socialist Party, and the Lebanese Forces party. Hezbollah and the Amal movement dominated the electoral scene in Iran and Syria, which had the highest turnout.

The turnout of the Sunni voter was remarkable in the Gulf states, specifically voting in the boxes designated for Beirut's second constituency.

It was impossible to trace the votes for the forces of change or what is known as the candidates of the revolutionary movements that took to the streets in 2019, as they had several lists which dispersed the expat vote.

Candidates are committed to an electoral silence that lasts until Monday, according to electoral law.

Arab News contacted sources close to them. One of them said on condition of anonymity: “According to our sources in the Gulf countries, especially in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, and Bahrain, a good percentage of expats voted for the forces of change. Voters who voted for the revolution's lists posted pictures of their fingers dipped in blue ink.

“Votes in Beirut's second constituency, specifically by the Sunni voter, were remarkable, although some Sunnis boycotted the elections in line with the Future Movement's decision not to participate. Other voters boycotted because they did not find in the traditional parties’ lists anyone who would convince them to re-elect them, specifically the Shiite voter preferred to boycott the electoral process.”

According to the final results of the voter turnout, Syria had the highest, amounting to 83.79 percent, 73.83 percent in Iran, 66.45 percent in Oman, 65.59 percent in Kuwait, 49.26 percent in Saudi Arabia, 66.46 percent in Bahrain, 59.63 percent in Jordan, 48.72 in Qatar, 48 percent in Iraq, and 44 percent in Egypt.

About 18,000 expats voted in these countries, from around 31,000 registered voters. The general percentage was 58.89 percent.

In 2018, the turnout in Arab countries was about 65 percent.

The ballot boxes arrived in Lebanon on Saturday, sealed with red wax and equipped with a tracking device via DHL, with the exception of the two ballot boxes from Iran, which Lebanese ambassador Abbas Hassan brought personally by air as DHL does not deal with Iranian authorities. He said that the two boxes held 474 votes.

At the Masnaa crossing, on Lebanon's border with Syria, the Ministry of Interior received three ballot boxes containing 853 votes.

The boxes were transferred to the Banque du Liban for safekeeping until the evening of May 15, after the end of the electoral process in Lebanon, to be sorted with the rest of the ballot boxes.

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