BEIRUT: Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour said Friday he would investigate the reasons behind the low turnout of expatriate registration for the upcoming elections and defended his ministry of any shortcomings in this regard.
“I sent a communique to all Lebanese diplomatic missions abroad asking them to provide the [Foreign] Ministry within five days with detailed data and reasons behind the low turnout of voters,” said Mansour, speaking to reporters at his ministry.
He added that the information would be collected in a booklet that the ministry would forward to government departments and civil society groups in order to clarify the reasons behind the low level of participation.
Earlier this week, the Foreign Ministry said only 6,733 Lebanese expatriates in 46 countries had registered to participate in the 2013 parliamentary elections while there were no registrations at diplomatic missions in 40 other countries.
Mansour said the report would vindicate his ministry and reveal it was not to blame for the results “because we have done everything we can.”
Earlier in the day, Mansour said a lack of enthusiasm on the part of Lebanese expats for the upcoming elections meant very few had registered to vote.
He also defended against claims that his ministry had failed to encourage a higher turnout.
“There was sluggishness on the part of expatriates themselves and today they want to throw the ball in our court and that is unacceptable,” Mansour told Free Lebanon Radio Station. “It’s wrong to hold embassies responsible for the [low turnout],” he added.
He defended the work of missions abroad, saying they had carried out their duties and said the government had exhausted all efforts to encourage Lebanese abroad to register at their nearest embassy or consulate.
Mansour highlighted that of a population of 80,000 Lebanese living in the Australian city of Melbourne, only 1,136 Lebanese had registered to vote.
In Kuwait, where some 40,000 Lebanese reside, only 818 registered to vote, the minister said.
The Interior Ministry had called on the expats to register their names at embassies and consulates before Dec. 31, 2012, according to the electoral law currently in effect.
The foreign minister suggested that the poor expat registration may have been the result of Lebanese politicians failing to agree on an electoral law to govern the polls due in June.
“The Lebanese expatriate is probably frustrated because Lebanon has yet to agree on an electoral law and that has a negative effect,” Mansour said.
Lawmakers are also debating an increase in the number of seats in the 128-member Parliament to allocate some for the expatriates.