Spain and Morocco will open their land borders next week after two years

GCC diplomats urge Lebanese voters to preserve the country’s sovereignty, freedom and Arab identity

BEIRUT: Ambassadors of the Gulf Cooperation Council in Lebanon have urged voters in the country to prioritize the national interest over any other.

The diplomats stressed that only those who have preserved Lebanon, its sovereignty, freedom, Arab identity and territorial integrity should become MPs.

Their call came as the third stage of parliamentary elections for official employees took place on Thursday. These employees will manage the final phase of the elections on Sunday.

Nearly 15,000 voted Thursday in 29 polling stations to facilitate their work on Sunday. Voter turnout reached 50% at noon in some constituencies.

The emissaries expressed their wish for a transparent electoral process reflecting the aspirations of the Lebanese.

The ambassadors said “negativity towards the upcoming elections does not build a nation, but (it) allows others to fill the void and define the identity of Lebanon and its Arab people.”

Kuwaiti Ambassador to Lebanon Abdul-Al Sulaiman Al-Qenaei, Saudi Ambassador Walid Bukhari and Qatari Ambassador Ibrahim Al-Sahlawi visited the Grand Mufti of Lebanon, Sheikh Abdel-Latif Derian.

“To boycott the elections would be surrender,” the religious leader warned after meeting the diplomats. “We don’t want to deliver Lebanon to the enemies of Arabism. We must realize that whoever wins the elections will determine the future of Lebanon and its relations with its Arab brothers and friends.

The grand mufti’s remarks came amid local calls for voter turnout.

The calls have grown since Sunnis said they would boycott the elections due to the decision of Future Movement leader, former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, to retire from politics and not To stand for elections.

Dar Al-Fatwa’s media office said: “The three ambassadors stressed the importance of the religious and national role that Dar Al-Fatwa has played and is playing to strengthen the unity of the Lebanese and Islamic ranks in the difficult circumstances in the Lebanon, the homeland of moderation, love, convergence and coexistence.

“They reiterated their support, cooperation and solidarity with the Lebanese people and institutions, as well as their commitment to national unity, noting that the unity of Lebanon and its model of Islamic-Christian coexistence are a guarantee for the ‘unity of the Lebanese’.

Lebanon’s Arab clans and the Beirut Families Union stressed the need for “full commitment to Derian’s call for massive turnout in Sunday’s elections.”

He said the systematic vote was necessary to “preserve Lebanon’s independence, the sovereignty of the state of legitimate institutions, its identity, its Arab relations and its international friendships”.

He added: “The boycott is a malicious and perfidious deception, promoted by the enemies of democracy and the Lebanon of coexistence, in favor of strange and suspicious projects and suicidal racist alliances which have ravaged our country”.

The statement stressed that the Sunni community was a “key component in Lebanon, and that it would not give up its national and Arab role for anyone.” Boycotting the elections is suicide. Voting blank is a waste. Rational participation is a victory.

He also said the elections would not be “cheated by pseudo-rulers who have sold themselves and their homelands cheap”.

Amid calls for massive turnout, the Lebanese Association for Democratic Elections expressed concerns about the integrity of Sunday’s election.

President Michel Aoun said: “We have received information about the illegal disbursement of funds.”

At the penultimate Cabinet session on Thursday, he called on justice, defense and home ministers to order the army’s intelligence agency and security forces to crack down on corruption during the election period.

LADE said some employees were unfamiliar with the voting mechanism, even though they are responsible for managing the largest and most critical election process on Sunday and have already undergone training.

An Arab League delegation, led by Ahmed Rachid Khattabi, arrived in Lebanon on Wednesday to oversee the elections.

After visiting several polling stations on Thursday, Khattabi said: “The delegation arrived in Beirut at the invitation of the Lebanese Interior Minister to monitor the course of this legislative right, which is of particular and essential importance within the framework national action”.

The commander of the Lebanese army, General Joseph Aoun, has already stressed that the troops are ready to maintain the security of the elections.

He said the army would act with the utmost impartiality and only intervene to prevent clashes.

He was speaking at a meeting on Tuesday with the general staff and heads of major units and independent regiments.

He called on the contesting parties to assume their national responsibility and cooperate with the military to organize the vote in a calm and democratic atmosphere.

A report by the UN special rapporteur on the issue of extreme poverty and human rights, Olivier de Schutter, published on Wednesday, indicates that 80% of Lebanese live below the poverty line, as prices have risen more than 200%.

He said nine out of 10 people struggled to earn an income and an average of six out of 10 would leave the country if given the chance.

The head of the Association of Petroleum Importing Companies, Maroun Chammas, expects gasoline demand to double from Friday to Monday.

Total fuel consumption is expected to be around 37 million liters, an increase of around 14 million liters compared to normal days.

“The overall cost of the canisters of gasoline that will be consumed from Friday to Monday is approximately 938 billion Lebanese pounds ($622.22 million), an increase of approximately 355 billion Lebanese pounds compared to normal days. “, did he declare.

These figures do not include the cost and quantities required by the armed forces this coming election weekend, Shammas added.