The initial voter turnout overseas for Lebanon's parliamentary election is put at around 36 per cent just seven hours after the polls opened. Iran and Syria have witnessed the highest percentage of votes by Lebanese expatriates; Egypt has the lowest.
According to Lebanon's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants, 11,268 people out of 30,930 eligible voters living outside the country had voted by 14:00 local time (11:00 GMT). Voting began today at 07:00 local time (04:00 GMT) and will close at 22:00 (19:00 GMT).
According to the official Lebanese news agency, the expats' voting process has started in ten countries: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Syria, Oman, Egypt, Bahrain, Jordan, Iraq and Iran.
This is the first overseas stage of the parliamentary election. It will be followed by the second stage next Sunday in 48 Western countries, said the ministry.
There are 718 candidates on 103 electoral lists in the election, each hoping to win one of the 128 parliamentary seats. The 128 seats are distributed along sectarian lines as follows: 28 for Sunni Muslims, 28 for Shia Muslims, eight for Druze, 34 for Maronites, 14 for Orthodox, eight for Catholics, five for Armenians, two for Alawites and one for minorities within the Christian community.
The election is taking place in the midst of complicated political conditions, and an unprecedented economic and financial crisis in Lebanon. The problems are exacerbated by the scarcity of basic commodities and the local currency's loss of about 90 per cent of its value.