BEIRUT: Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil said Friday that he had submitted a draft law to extend the deadline for voter registration of Lebanese living abroad, a statement from his office said.
The draft law, which would reopen registration and extend the deadline until Feb. 15, 2018, was “due to the desire of tens of thousands of [expats] to register,” Bassil said. He urged “politicians to support this extension in order to encourage the Lebanese diaspora to participate in the political life of their homeland.”
Over 90,000 expatriates reportedly registered before the Nov. 20 deadline came to a close.
In October, the Foreign Ministry launched the first website for eligible overseas voters to register for parliamentary elections. The upcoming polling is set for May 6, 2018.
The Lebanese diaspora has long been unable to vote from abroad.
Under the new electoral law, the Foreign Ministry will designate overseas polling stations, the location of which will be agreed at a later time. Overseas ballots will be cast between April 22 and 27.
However, the new mechanism has drawn the ire of some Lebanese residents, who have expressed frustrations that Lebanese citizens abroad will be able to vote but are not required to pay taxes.