Lebanon News

Damascus to set up polling stations at border: envoy

Education Minister Elias Bou Saab, left, and Syrian Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdel-Karim Ali speak to reporters after a meeting at the ministry on Thursday, May 15, 2014. (The Daily Star/Dalati&Nohra, HO)

BEIRUT: The Syrian Embassy in Lebanon to facilitate the voting process for the upcoming presidential elections by opening its doors for 12 hours and set up polling stations on the border, Syria’s envoy Ali Abdel-Karim Ali said Thursday.

“We are approaching the presidential election scheduled for May 28," Ali told reporters after meeting with Lebanese Education Minister Elias Bou Saab. "The Syrian Embassy will open its doors from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. to receive voters and there is a two-hour extension for Syrian officials.”

“On June 3, there will be polling stations in Syria and at all border areas and we will also facilitate the electoral process so that all Syrians can carry out their electoral duty,” he said.

Ali and Bou Saab also discussed the status of Syrian students in Lebanon and the possibility of some returning home.

“The minister asked for the meeting to coordinate with Syria’s Education Ministry and find solutions for students to return to their schools or help [the students] find means to return to schools,” said Ali.

“The Syrian government and the embassy welcome any cooperation in this regard and we have sent memos in which we expressed our readiness to coordinate to help Syrians return to their homeland, where are ready to house them,” he added.

Lebanese authorities are designing a new plan to address the overwhelming number of Syrian refugees in the country. They now number more than 1 million and more are arriving daily.

Asked whether some Syrians would prefer to remain in Lebanon, Ali said all Syrians wanted to return to their homes.

“Saying some Syrians do not want to return is not accurate, logical or convincing. When the states stop arming and funding the conspiracy against Syria, you will see tens of thousands of Syrians returning to all areas, including from Turkey and Jordan, just as Lebanese returned home after the end of the Israeli aggression in 2006,” he said.

They also discussed the issue of Syrian and Palestinian students who have finished their school term and are preparing to take their final examinations, which are necessary in order to enter higher education institutions.

“Palestinian and Syrian refugee students have issues with taking such exams because they need a Cabinet decision to allow them to do, especially given that most of them do not have the proper identification documents,” Bou Saab told reporters.

“Such a problem will affect their future in any colleges they seek to enlist in,” he added.

“We discussed with the ambassador the issue of students who seek to register at schools ... particularly given that many of them are not refugees but have taken refuge in order to benefit from international aid."





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