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Low turnout worries politicians as Lebanon voting ends


"I retain my right to legally challenge the results".

The parliamentary elections in Lebanon were postponed several times due to the domestic political crisis and the war in neighboring Syria.

Hezbollah has also sent thousands of its fighters to Syria to support forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad in battles against predominantly Sunni rebel forces and the jihadist group Islamic State (IS).

Official results are expected to be announced by Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk later on Monday, although no time has been set.

Hariri, and other senior politicians, blamed the unexpectedly weak turnout on a new electoral law which appears to have confused or disappointed voters.

Voter turnout amounted to 49.2% (in the previous parliamentary elections in Lebanon that took place nine years ago, the turnout was around 54%).

"These leaders are destroying homes, not building them", said Ahmad Khashouq, 43, a private security guard in Beirut.

Though complaining about the "complicated" political system and diverged opinions in this small but religious diverse country, Hejazi said she still hoped this election would bring about some new changes.

More than 3.7 million Lebanese are eligible to vote, and will chose from 597 candidates who are running on 77 closed lists for a seat in the 128-strong parliament. It is a move that has drawn criticism from Sunni and Christian quarters in the country, who say that it risks embroiling Lebanon in a wider regional conflict. In the Choueifat district, a crowd inside a station accused the station supervisor of illegal voting practices and smashed a ballot box, spilling its contents across the floor.

A power-sharing system stipulates that the prime minister should be a Sunni Muslim, the speaker of parliament a Shia and the president a Maronite Christian.




The preliminary results show at least one candidate from a civil society list - journalist Paula Yaacoubian - won a seat in the capital, an area traditionally monopolized by established political parties.

The highest voting turnout was in the second district in the north, and the lowest in Beirut's first district, with 31.5%, he said.

"This country is really bipolar", said Brjawi.

"This shows Lebanon's democracy and the importance of democracy".

Lebanon has often been a scene where the rivalry between the region's two heavyweights Iran and Saudi Arabia has played out, but their political clients in this election seemed content to maintain the status quo.

As Hariri entered a public school in Beirut to vote, a woman in a wheelchair complained that polling stations were not equipped for disabled voters. "It is not fair that we have to be carried like bags of potatoes", Silvana Lakkis told him. "I urge leaders of [all] political forces to calm down and abandon provocative statements, as they may lead the country to a problem", Nasrallah said. "Order is nice", he quipped. The remaining eight seats in Baalbak-Hermel went to Hezbollah, thanks to 230,000 Shiite voters who came out to vote for their candidates on election day.

But in recent years, Riyadh has cut support for Hariri, backing that helped Future in 2009 as part of the March 14 coalition, which focused on making Hezbollah give up its arms. But shortly after returning to Beirut, he withdrew his resignation and mended broken fences with Hezbollah. They wore yellow shirts with the slogan "We protect and build" written on them.

"We suggest voting be extended for two hours", he said.

This year's vote was according to a new election law providing for proportional representation for the first time.

To ensure the fairness of the election and prevent voting fraud, Lebanon has invited the European Union (EU) and the USA -based National Democratic Institute to monitor the voting on Sunday.

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