Voting ends in Lebanese elections

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By Philip Andrew Churm
Lebanon Vote
Lebanon Vote

Polling stations have closed in Lebanon for the country’s first parliamentary election in almost a decade.

A total of 583 candidates have been standing for 128 seats. Christians and Muslims have 64 seats each.

Changes in voting laws means a system of proportional representation has been introduced in the newly designated 15 electoral districts.

More than 3 and a half million Lebanese were registered to vote.

Prime Minister, Saad Hariri, said the election was a positive step forward.  "When we see what is happening in countries around us and Lebanon is holding democratic elections, this shows that Lebanon is fine."

Turnout was low at 46.9 percent but The Deputy Secretary-General of Hezbollah, Sheikh Naim Qassem was positive.  "This is an important chance for all the Lebanese to elect according to the proportional law which gives each group its right and will be able to be represented in the parliament,” he said.

Just an hour before polls closed President Michel Aoun appealed to voters to go out and vote.

About 6,800 polling stations were closely monitored by security forces.

The main battle is between a Western and Saudi-backed coalition headed by Hariri and the Iranian-backed Hezbollah group, thereby representing the power struggle that exists more widely across the Middle East.