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Lebanon goes to polls to elect new parliament after nine years

Speed News Desk | Updated on: 6 May 2018, 17:58 IST

For the first parliamentary elections for almost a decade, polls have opened in Lebanon. The last elections were held in  2009, for what was supposed to be a four-year term.

Due to vulnerability in neighbouring Syria, the parliament extended its term twice.

On Sunday, around 583 candidates compete for the 128 seats in parliament through 77 rival lists, spread across 15 districts.

The new electoral law that introduced proportional representation, voters will be casting two votes; one for a list of candidates and one for a single preferred candidate.

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On Saturday, Lebanese Army forces were deployed across the country in preparation for the election and its aftermath.

Lebanon has 3.8 million registered voters and more than 700,000 voters will be casting their ballots for the first time.

Around 6,800 polling stations were opened across the country, under the presence of the gendarmerie.

Voting will continue until 19:00 local time (16:00 GMT).

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

A young couple walked out of one the polling stations in Achrafieh said, "I am happy with the change this will bring about - something we have a role in, something that has our imprint," she said. "We have to serve the country for it to serve us."

On Sunday morning, President Michel Aoun gave a brief statement to the gathered press, addressing one of the more perplexing aspects of the new law; the preferential vote.

The President also called voting "a sacred duty". He added, a lot of countries enforce mandatory voting, Lebanon values the freedom of each citizen to make their own choice.

"But the Lebanese should not neglect this right," he said.

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First published: 6 May 2018, 17:58 IST