BEIRUT: Syria’s Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi Monday criticized Lebanon’s decision to revoke the refugee status of Syrians who traveled back to their homeland.
“The decision of the Lebanese Interior Ministry ... is invalid under the law,” Zoubi said in remarks to the local LBCI television channel.
Lebanon’s Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk has said that "security concerns" prompted the Lebanese government to consider altering the refugees' status.
The new policy, which came into effect Sunday, comes just days before the Syrian presidential election slated for Tuesday.
Zoubi said the decision was Lebanon’s business.
“It is an internal Lebanese affair that we will not interfere in," he said.
Zoubi said he believed the decision was aimed at preventing Syrians from voting in the June 3 presidential election.
Machnouk has denied rumors that the new policy – announced Saturday - was related to controversy over the enormous turnout of Syrian refugees and expatriates who voted at the Syrian Embassy in Yarze last week.
Some Lebanese politicians and pundits condemned the flagrant display of Syrian patriotism, as thousands of cars and buses adorned with Syrian flags clogged traffic around Beirut.
Zoubi said the decision would affect about 500,000 Syrians.
“About half a million Syrians will not be able to participate in the elections because of this decision," he complained.