Polling booths opened in Lebanon on Sunday for the country’s first parliamentary election in nine years, a period marked by stretches of political paralysis and war in neighboring Syria.
Voting is scheduled to last from 7am (0400 GMT) until 7pm (1600 GMT), with unofficial results expected to start coming in overnight and a formal tally announced in the coming days.
Whatever the result, a new coalition government including most of the major parties is likely to be formed after the election, analysts have said.
Getting a new government in place quickly would reassure investors of Lebanon’s economic stability after donors pledged $11 billion in soft loans for a capital investment program last month, in return for fiscal and other reforms.
Lebanese are closely watching the performance of Sunni Muslim Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri’s Future Movement party and that of the Iran-backed, Shi’ite Hezbollah group and its allies.
Despite some acts of violence and intimidation connected to the election in recent weeks, no major incidents were reported in the immediate run-up to voting.