Amal Movement leader and Speaker Nabih Berri Sunday expressed his disappointment in the low registration of expatriates set to vote in Lebanon’s parliamentary elections, calling on those who didn’t register to fly home to take part. In a speech broadcast to audiences abroad, Berri addressed Amal supporters around the world, telling them Lebanon needs their participation in the May 6 parliamentary elections, Lebanon’s first such vote in nine years.
“I paid attention to your participation in the upcoming parliamentary elections ... it wasn’t extensive, you were hesitant in registering your names at the diplomatic delegations,” the speaker said, addressing viewers from his summer residence in Lebanon’s Msayleh.
He said that this hesitation resulted from the historic exclusion of the diaspora and its marginalization.
The Lebanese diaspora has been given the chance to vote in the elections for the first time after lawmakers endorsed a new proportional electoral law in June 2017.
Around 85,000 expats around the globe will be voting on April 27 and 29.
“In all cases, I ask for your attention because your country has learned a lesson and has paid attention to you [as you] aren’t only of a financial force, but also as an electoral force that all groups and alliances are in need of,” Berri said.
“Don’t be afraid of the elections, but be afraid for them [if you do not vote],” Berri said.
“Vote without hesitation. I know the pressure you were under and the resistance is the one that has been targeted, but despite this, vote.”
The Amal Movement is running in the elections along with Hezbollah. The Shiite duo is maintaining its alliance in all 15 districts.
Berri urged expats to join local residents in raising the turnout of voters for the resistance and for the Hope and Loyalty lists.
He said that doing so would pave the way for a fixed relationship between the diaspora and their country and expressed hope that in future elections, expats would be represented by their own members of Parliament.
The speaker said that many expats have contributed to building the countries they now live in while Lebanon is currently in need of them to build a better future.
In an apparent reference to Free Patriotic Movement leader and Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, the speaker said that his electoral program would focus on setting up an Immigrant Ministry as well as reactivating the work of other ministries with the diaspora.
This would aim to bring expats back to Lebanon and “turning the diaspora into immigrants [returning home],” the speaker said.
Berri added that the elections would solidify “the golden equation” of the Army, the people and the resistance.
However, at the same time “[we need United Nations institutions] in order to continue extending our sovereignty over our international land borders and demarcate our maritime border,” he said.
Meanwhile, Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah reaffirmed the strong alliance that his party has with the Amal Movement.
Speaking during a campaign rally in the Western Bekaa area of Mashghara, Nasrallah emphasized that the party would support any allied candidate, even those who were not members of the party.
The rally was held for a list without any Hezbollah candidates but that included a candidate from the Amal Movement.
Mohammad Nasrallah is representing Amal in the Western Bekaa and Rashaya district and will be running on the “Better Future” list.
The Hezbollah leader said the district played an important role in the resistance against Israel.
He called on Hezbollah supporters in the area to commit to supporting the list and Amal’s candidates, urging them to participate in the upcoming elections. “We expect Hezbollah supporters to be fully present on Election Day,” Nasrallah said. “I assure you that the strong presence in Parliament, government and state institutions is a guarantee for the resistance and the golden equation,” he said.
Nasrallah also told residents of the district that they shouldn’t be driven by sectarian calls and advised them to maintain a good relationship with their Syrian neighbors.
“If there is someone who is still betting that Syria has fallen, then they are delusional,” Nasrallah said.
He criticized the attack on the resistance that others have engaged in, naming the Future Movement in particular.
The Hezbollah leader also told residents of the district that the resistance constitutes a guarantee for their presence in the area.
“It’s in the interest of the Western Bekaa and Rashaya residents with all their [various] sects to return to coexistence within the Syrian surrounding,” Nasrallah said.
He denied claims that the “Better Future” list is representing Syria in the election. “Syria didn’t name anyone in these elections,” Nasrallah said.
Media reports emerged a few months ago saying that some candidates, including former General Security head Jamil Sayyed and former Deputy Speaker Elie Firzli, were nominated at Syria’s request.
The list was targeted, Nasrallah claimed, because it was a ticket that included candidates who stayed on good terms with the Syrian government, adding that the list was the only one that could mend the broken ties between Syria and the residents of Western Bekaa and Rashaya.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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