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Lebanese-Canadians flock home to vote

MONTREAL, June 5 (UPI) -- Thousands of Lebanese-Canadians are taking advantage of free flights to Beirut to vote in Sunday's national election, the Globe and Mail reported Friday.

There are tens of thousands of Lebanese-Canadians with dual citizenship eligible to vote, although Lebanon doesn't allow absentee voting, the report said.

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Various sources told The Globe in Montreal the number of people taking advantage of the politically funded free flights could be as high as 8,000.

The newspaper quoted local reports in Lebanon as saying as many as 80,000 foreign voters arrived in Lebanon this week at a cost of $97 million to political parties. Lebanon's population is four million.

The election pits the Hezbollah opposition, which is considered a terrorist group by Canada and numerous other western countries, against the Sunni Muslim majority. The Globe said Hezbollah has only marginal support among Lebanese-Canadians.

Ali Assoum, a Montreal shopkeeper, told the newspaper the free trips are unethical.

"Money that should be spent rebuilding Lebanon is buying votes instead," he said. "I'm against all of them. This stains democracy. It's a dictatorship of money."

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