Syrians flock to Lebanon's border to vote in presidential election
Hundreds of Syrians flocked border polling stations Tuesday to vote in the presidential election, defying a Lebanese government threat to revoke their refugee status if they returned to their country.
Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk said security concerns had prompted the Lebanese government to warn Syrians that anyone who crosses back into Syria after June 1 would have their refugee status revoked.
Lebanon’s state-run news agency said border crossing points, particularly Jdaidet Yabous, was witnessing traffic jams as Syrian refugees flocked to vote.
The National News Agency said members of Lebanon’s Security General were organizing entry and return.
Hezbollah's Al-Manar television channel, reporting live from Jdaidet Yabous, a Syrian crossing point, about 2 km from the Lebanese Masnaa border crossing spoke to several voters.
“I’m from Aleppo, but I’ve been living in Lebanon for over seven years,” one voter said, brandishing a huge poster of Assad.
“I came here today to elect Dr. Bashar Assad because he is the protector of our homeland,” added the voter, in his 40s.
Another elderly voter from the northwestern Syrian city of Idlib said he is a resident of Lebanon.
“I don’t need the U.N. to feed me. I’m here to elect Assad and to urge him to deal with rebels in the same way they deal [with us],” he said.
He was flanked by hundreds of voters, waving Syrian flags and posters of Assad.
In recent remarks, Lebanon’s Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil said a substantial percent of Syrian refugees had come to the country for economic rather than humanitarian reasons.