BEIRUT — Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib warned of an “inability to hold elections abroad with the current legal deadlines” in a letter sent to Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi.
Here’s what we know:
• “We are sending you this letter to affirm that it will not be possible to organize the elections outside Lebanese territory within the amended deadlines,” Bou Habib wrote, adding that his ministry was not consulted during the parliamentary process to amend the electoral law.
• On Oct. 28, Parliament voted to approve amendments to the electoral law, including moving the polling date from May 8 to March 27. The legislature had previously approved the change on Oct. 19, but President Michel Aoun refused to sign off on it. The law became effective five days after the second vote, still without Aoun’s signature.
• Bou Habib asked that the Foreign Ministry not be held responsible if deadlines were not met and if “expats' right to vote is not respected.”•
• The letter notes that the timeline to translate and verify registrations after expats’ registration window closes on Nov. 20 is tight. It adds that during Christmas and New Year, most of the expatriates are outside their countries of residence, and thus it will be difficult to contact them for any review or corrections needed.
• It also asserts that the procedures for obtaining approvals from foreign countries that will host the elections in their territories could be lengthy, particularly due to COVID-19 safety measures and in cases where the voting will be held at sites other than embassies.
• The current number of expatriate voters registered is around 66,000 and is expected to exceed 100,000, Bou Habib wrote.