|New bill proposed to allow Lebanese expatriates to vote|
|Lebanese lawyers and professionals proposed a new legal bill Thursday to allow Lebanese expatriates to vote while outside the country. The bill was prepared by Chibli Mallat, a professor of law at St. Joseph University and Nada Abu Zeid, a lawyer living in France, in cooperation with Gebran Karam, an engineer and professor at the Lebanese-American University.
While announcing the bill at the Press Federation, Mallat said the Constitution states that Lebanon is a democratic and parliamentary republic where all Lebanese equally benefit from civil and political rights and therefore must be able to choose their representatives.
Mallat said there are various voting methods for expatriates wishing to vote while outside their native country but in the case of Lebanon the bill suggests organizing voting in embassies and consulates around the world for all those who have a valid passport.
He said: "Under the proposal, Lebanese living abroad would have to register a week ahead of the elections in the nearest consulate or embassy where they would cast their vote. The relevant embassies will have received the electoral rolls on CD beforehand so as to properly account for the vote."
Mallat added this method is very simple and can be incorporated into the electoral law under discussion, regardless of the size of the voting district.
He said: "We have presented a draft of this bill to the prime minister, the justice minister and to other officials and politicians inside the country and abroad to widen the democratic circle."
Abu Zeid and Karam, both co-founders of the Web site www.lebanese-abroad.com said the events that rocked Lebanon in recent months and resulted in a rebirth for the country had lead a group of expatriates to prepare a petition demanding their right to vote in the countries they live in.
He said: "More than 13,000 people have signed the petition. Approving this bill would create a real link between Lebanese at home and abroad, therefore we ask everyone to support our movement."
Beirut,05 02 2005
The Daily Star