Officials Reject Foreign Ministry Efforts Concerning Expats Participation in Polls, Accuse it of Negligenceإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
The controversial debate over the Lebanese expatriates' right to vote in the upcoming 2013 parliamentary elections took over discussions at the joint parliamentary committees on Thursday as attendees expressed surprise concerning the numbers of expats willing to vote, local newspapers reported on Friday.
The session witnessed a heated debate among officials as some accused the Foreign Ministry of negligence and considered that it failed to prepare the proper measures to ensure that the Lebanese expats participate in casting their votes.
Free Patriotic Movement's Change and Reform parliamentary bloc Nehmetallah Abi Nasr said in comments published in al-Joumhouria daily that the Lebanese expats should obtain the right to vote like their compatriots who are residing in the country.
“We reject an electoral draft law that allows the expats to vote for only six candidates” divided equally between Christians and Muslims, he pointed out.
Abi Nasr accused the Foreign Ministry of not being prepared logistically for the matter as it failed to set a mechanism.
He also revealed that Hizbullah rejects the vote of expats as it can't obtain any votes from the Lebanese residing in the United States as it considers the party a “terrorist organization.”
On Thursday, The joint parliamentary committees formed an electoral subcommittee to study the disputed issues concerning the electoral draft law, however, Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour's statements during the session that only some 3,009 expats had registered to vote at Lebanese embassies and missions to take part in the 2013 elections created a heated debate.
Later, Mansour said in comments to Voice of Lebanon radio 93.3 that the ministry didn't fail in carrying out its diplomatic tasks to ensure the right of the expatriates to vote.
“They are exploiting the issue for political interests,” he told the radio station.
He pointed out that no one is more keen than the Foreign Ministry to guarantee the expats rights.
Mansour stated that the number of expats willing to vote that he mentioned during Thursday's session is “accurate.”
“The ministry will assume its duties immediately after the parliaments adopts an electoral law,” he added.
Al-Mustaqbal bloc MP Ahmed Fatfat voiced the March 14 alliance's rejection of Mansour's claims, demanding his ministry to prepare a mechanism that would allow the expats to vote for 128 lawmakers instead of six.
In August, the government approved an electoral draft law that allows the expats to vote only for six candidates divided equally between Christians and Muslims.
This decision increased the number of parliamentarians to 134.
According to a report published in As Safir newspaper, the number of Lebanese expats willing to vote is around one million. They will need some 2,500 ballots and will cost the state's treasury 1,790,000 Euro.
President of the World Lebanese Cultural Union Michel El Douaihy said recently that there are around 12-15 million Lebanese expatriates, which means four or five times more than the number of Lebanese residing in the country.
He said that there are around 200,000 Lebanese residing in Africa and another 200,000 in Europe, which each should be represented by around two MPs.
As for the U.S. and Canada, they should at least get six lawmakers, he said.
Australia should be represented by four, while Brazil’s expats should be allowed to have 10 MPs and the rest of Latin America another six.