Voting of Lebanon general elections begins
Published: Jun 08, 2009 08:48 AM Updated: May 25, 2011 12:48 PM

Voting of Lebanon parliamentary elections began Sunday morning amid tight security measures to prevent any incident which could hinder what is seen as the most important elections in the history of the country.

 Voting kicked off at 7:00 a.m. (0400 GMT) in all 26 election constituencies to choose 128 members of parliament amid high tension between two competing coalitions -- the pro-western ruling coalition backed by Saudi Arabia and Egypt, and the Hezbollah-led opposition backed by Syria and Iran.

 Over 3 million eligible Lebanese voters are expected to cast their ballots to decide the identity of the next parliament and the next government.

 Both the current ruling majority and the opposition have poured millions into their election campaigns. More than 20,000 Lebanese expatriates arrived in Beirut over the weekend, many of them flown in by competing parties amid expectations that in a tight race their votes could swing the results.

 High security measures were adopted, as 50,000 soldiers and police were deployed across the country to prevent any violence that could break up between the two sided.

 Meanwhile, over 200 international observers from the European Union, the Carter center, the Arab league and other institutions arrived last week to oversee that the elections are held in a transparent and legal way.

 The voting will end at 7:00 p.m. (1600 GMT), while the final official results will be announced by the interior ministry on Monday.

 Political observers said the margin of votes for the two sides will be very small in a sharply divided society, no matter who wins the majority.

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