Polls open in Lebanon's first general election in nine years

The last elections in Lebanon took place in 2009, for what was supposed to be a four-year term but parliament extended its term twice due to instability in neighbouring Syria.

Published: 06th May 2018 10:55 AM  |   Last Updated: 06th May 2018 10:55 AM   |  A+A-

Julie Howayek casts a ballot at a polling station during the Lebanon's parliamentary elections at the Consulate General of Lebanon in Southfield, Mich., Sunday, April 29, 2018. | AP

By Reuters

BEIRUT: Polling booths opened in Lebanon on Sunday for the country's first parliamentary election in nine years, a period marked by stretches of political paralysis and war in neighbouring Syria.

Voting is scheduled to last from 7 a.m. (0400 GMT) until 7 p.m.(1600 GMT), with unofficial results expected to start coming in overnight and a formal tally announced in the coming days.

The last elections in the country took place in 2009, for what was supposed to be a four-year term, reports the BBC.

But parliament extended its term twice due to instability in neighbouring Syria and to reform the country's electoral laws.

Hezbollah is seeking to increase its parliamentary representation.

Official results are not expected until Monday or Tuesday, but analysts expect early details to emerge on Sunday night.

Tens of thousands of Lebanese citizens living aboard have already cast their votes earlier this week - the first time such expatriate voting has been allowed.

The change is due to the new electoral system being used, the BBC reported.

It also reduces the number of districts and uses a list-based proportional system for voting, with seats distributed among the various Christian and Islamic groups.

Lebanon has long had a power-sharing political system between the different religious denominations.

The number of seats in parliament is split between Christians and Muslims, and the president, prime minister, and speaker of the parliament must each come from a specific religious background.

The European Union said it has deployed election observers to all of Lebanon's voting districts.

Major issues facing the newly-elected parliament include the fate of a large number of refugees who have entered the country since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war, and continuing economic difficulties.

(with IANS inputs)

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