Syrian voting scene requires action, says minister

Photo: Syrian voting scene requires action, says minister / Arabic region

Social Affairs Minister Rashid Derbas criticized Wednesday's scene outside the Syrian Embassy in Yarze as more like a rally than an election, and warned that Lebanon would reconsider refugees' status, The Daily Star reported.

"I didn't see elections yesterday, but out-of-context political rallies, which raise the question about how to avoid this in the future," Derbas said in remarks Thursday.

He said the Interior Ministry had given "clear orders" against holding such political demonstrations.

Traffic to the Syrian Embassy in suburban Yarze came to a standstill Wednesday, with roads in and around Beirut blocked for miles as crowds of Syrians made their way to vote.

The support for Syrian President Bashar Assad among the tens of thousands of voters was high and the atmosphere was more like a rally than that of an election.

Voting at the embassy was extended for a second day due to the large turnout, and will continue until midnight Thursday.

Derbas said Lebanon would reconsider the recognition of refugees after Wednesday's chaotic scene.

"The issue will be discussed during [Friday's] Cabinet meeting, and what happened yesterday should accelerate work on the basis of clear procedures that provide for refugee status recognition," he told Al-Jadeed TV.

He said Syrians who were not considered eligible for refugee status would be "crossed off the list."

Derbas, nevertheless, stressed that the borders would remain open for Syrians officially recognized as refugees by the UNHCR.

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