Lebanon holds its first general election in nine years

Voters travelled across Lebanon on Sunday to take part in the country's first election in nine years - a poll seen as important to securing economic stability.


Voters queued at polling stations across Lebanon on Sunday (May 6) for the country's first general election in nine years - and it's an economically important one.

The tiny Mediterranean country has one of the world's highest debt-to-GDP ratios and the International Monetary Fund has warned that its fiscal trajectory is unsustainable.

The smooth formation of a new government may convince investors of economic stability.

Under election rules voters are registered in the area their ancestors came from and that's seen people traveling across the country in order to take part.

(SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) UNIDENTIFIED LEBANESE VOTER SAYING:

"I traveled from Beirut and left home at 5.30AM to come and vote. We have been waiting for the election for nine years."

Since the last election Syria's civil war and the influx of more than a million refugees have aggravated internal political rifts, and that's partly the reason why new elections have been delayed - as rival blocs failed to agree on a move to a proportional voting system.

That new system has confused some voters and made the contest unpredictable in some previously safe seats.

But analysts say this election is still unlikely to upset Lebanon's overall balance of power or undermine the long-entrenched political elite, a group that includes local dynasties and former warlords.

Analysts are also watching the performance of Sunni Muslim Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri's Future Movement party and the Iran-backed Hezbollah.

That's because Lebanon has periodically been an arena for intense competition between Riyadh and Tehran - though in recent years Saudi Arabia has pulled back from its support for al-Hariri's party.

Unofficial results were expected to start coming in overnight on Sunday (May 6)



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Source: Times of Oman, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tt1cNU5dVLk