De Gabriel describes the “huge Lebanese diaspora” as “an important force.” (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)
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As Lebanese expatriates in Europe head to the polls Sunday to participate for the first time from abroad in Lebanon's parliamentary elections, EU Election Observation Mission personnel will join them to monitor the historic vote. Giving more than 82,000 registered Lebanese voters abroad the opportunity to take part in the elections was one of the key recommendations made by the EU EOM after the last parliamentary elections were held in 2009, deputy chief observer Jose Antonio De Gabriel told The Daily Star in a recent interview."We cannot travel with the ballot papers in the hold of the planes," he joked, "but what we are going to do is carefully observe that these safeguards are applied at origin ... and also that these safeguards are still in place when they're reopened here in Beirut and transported to the registration committees for the counting".After observing the elections in 10 European countries, those personnel will join their colleagues in Lebanon for Election Day itself, where over 100 observers will be posted in and around polling stations in all 15 major and 26 minor districts. With the information collected before, during and after the elections, the mission will produce a preliminary report a few days after the vote and a full report around two months later that will include new recommendations.A very positive development in the new law, De Gabriel said, was the introduction of pre-printed ballots.
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