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Lebanon votes amid economic woes and political uncertainty

Lebanon votes amid economic woes and political uncertainty

Lebanon goes to the polls today amid the worst financial crash in decades as well as deep economic and political instability caused by spiraling cost of living and political stalemate.

Rolling electricity blackouts and hyperinflation with the Lebanese currency losing 90 per cent of its value are all on the minds of voters as they take to the polls.

Taha Maassarani took over the family electrical goods store in Tripoli in north Lebanon. While his business is doing OK, he says the government is doing nothing for people.

“The government, pure government – nothing to blame but the government, and most of the people, because we let them rule us for a very long time. We haven’t seen anything positive from them. Nothing. No evolving, no education, no childcare support. Nothing.”

As Shona Murray points out,

“It’s also the first time the Lebanese have voted since the devastating explosion two years ago in the port of Beirut here behind me. Over 20 people were killed, thousands injured and thousands more were displaced or lost their livelihoods. People I’ve spoken to say the lack of a full and proper investigation is typical of the inertia in the political system.”

“We lost hope, we had some kind of hope, it was two years ago and we still don’t have the answers and we had other explosions in 2005 and others”, says Mark Aref, owner of Alo bebe shop in Tripoli.

The Lebanese political system is complex and based on dividing religions. A voter’s choice of candidate is pre-determined based on their religion and there is little motivation for the sides to work together.”

Mark Aref: “The one I want to vote for I cannot vote because of my religion because he doesn’t have the same religion as I.”

Meanwhile an EU election observation mission has been underway since March to assess the validity of the ballot.

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