Lebanon Elections 2018: Expat Voting Begins in Arab Countries
Ballot boxes in six Arab countries opened Friday morning marking the beginning of expat voting, the first mechanism in Lebanese history to allow expatriates to participate in the parliamentary elections from abroad.
Lebanon's Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil was at the ministry to monitor via a screen the Lebanese heading to polling stations abroad to cast their votes.
"I am very proud to witness through the screen at the Foreign Ministry the first [expat] voting in Lebanon's history. It is the beginning of a path that will not stop, except with the return of the Lebanese to [Lebanon]," Bassil said via Twitter.
Registered voters in Arab countries, numbering 12,609 in all, began to head to the polls starting from 6 a.m. Beirut time.
The first ballot boxes were reported to have been opened in the United Arab Emirates and Oman, followed by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait and then Egypt.
Local TV channel LBCI reported that voters in Dubai had faced some difficulties, as some voters' names had not been included on the voters' lists. There are 5,166 voters registered to cast ballots in UAE.
Speaking to reporters, Bassil said that the mechanism for the voting process was set by the Interior Ministry and that the Foreign Ministry was only implementing the steps in this process that were under its mandate.
"There is coordination between the Interior Ministry and Foreign Ministry," Faten Younis, head of Political and Refugee Affairs at the Interior Ministry, told local channels. Younis said that the ministry was working to facilitate various obstacles facing the expat voters, adding that each case was particular.
"We are following up on the issue of some voters of not having their names enrolled on voters' lists," she said.
Friday's voting in Arab countries will be followed by another round of voting on Sunday for Lebanese in Europe, Australia, the Americas and Africa - with the overall number of registered expat voters in these regions reported to be 82,970.
Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team