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Wednesday, May 18, 2022

US all for holding Lebanese elections ‘on time’

US all for holding Lebanese elections ‘on time’

The US on Thursday said it was for holding this May’s Lebanese legislative elections “on time”.
“But we do support free, fair, transparent, and on time elections in Lebanon that represent the legitimate will of the Lebanese people who are living through crises of historic proportion.

“We hope these elections will lead to a timely formation of government — of a government that will quickly address the challenges faced by the people of Lebanon,” State Spokesperson Ned Price said in a briefing.

Lebanon has set May 15, 2022, as the date for parliamentary elections, while nationals living overseas would cast their ballots a week earlier. Lebanese voters living abroad will get to vote either on May 6 or 8, depending on their country of residence.

Lebanese expatriates have begun casting their votes in Lebanon’s parliamentary elections, almost three years into a crippling economic crisis that has decimated the Lebanese pound, sparked unprecedented inflation, and pushed thousands of people to leave the country.

Lebanese expats living in 10 countries — including Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran, and Iraq — will vote on Friday, while the Diaspora living in 48 other countries will vote on Sunday.

A total of 244,442 Lebanese abroad have registered to cast their ballots in the election, more than double the number of expats who signed up to vote in the previous polls in 2018.

While many opposition groups are hoping to gain significant votes from the Diaspora amid the economic crisis, some analysts say Lebanon’s traditional parties will likely remain dominant after the election.

Lebanon holds parliamentary elections every four years, with seats allocated for its wide array of sects under its fragile sectarian power-sharing system. The presidency is allocated to a Maronite Christian, the premiership to a Sunni Muslim, and the parliament speaker is a Shia Muslim.

Those abroad were allowed to vote for the first time in 2018 under a new electoral law that also stipulated that six new seats would be added to the parliament in the 2022 election to represent the Diaspora.

However, following pressure from independent political parties and expats, members of parliament rejected adding those six seats, which means expats will vote within the existing 128 seats. Resentment over systematic corruption, financial mismanagement, and disregard for worsening living conditions is at an all-time high.
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