Half the population of the Arab world yesterday (Wednesday) showed its enthusiasm for the proposed new federation linking Syria, Libya and Egypt.
Half the population of the Arab world yesterday (Wednesday) showed its enthusiasm for the proposed new federation linking Syria, Libya and Egypt. Our second coverage of yesterday's referendum takes in the voting in Damascus - where Syrian President Al-Assad and Prime Minister Abdel Rahmann Klaifawi were among the voters -- and in the Lebanon, where special arrangements were made for Egyptian and Syrian nationals to cast their votes.
Our Production No. 10169/71 EGYPT: EGYPTIANS, LIBYANS AND SYRIANS VOTE FOR TRIPARTITE CONFEDERATION covered the referendum in Cairo yesterday.
SYNOPSIS: A day to put the flags out in Damascus, where Syrians voted on Wednesday on the proposed new federation of their country with Libya and Egypt -- comprising a total population of about half the Arab world.
Syrian Prime Minister Abdel Rahmann Klaifawi arrives at one of the country's five-thousand polling stations. About two and a half million Syrians were entitled to vote in the referendum and so great was the response the polling stations were forced to stay open for an extra four hours. the result was that over ninety-six per cent of the people voted in favour of the federation. Earlier helicopters had dropped leaflets over Damascus and other cities urging the people to exercise their right to vote. There were similar enthusiastic turnouts in Libya and Egypt -- in Egypt a phenomenal ninety-nine point nine per cent of the voters were in favour of the federation.
Syria's President Assad, who engineered the planned federation with Egypt's President Sadat and Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi, voted at another Damascus polling station. A fourth Arab country, Sudan, has also agreed to the principles of the new federation, and is likely to join in a few months time -- according to Libya's Colonel Gaddafi.
Special arrangements were made for these Syrian voters in neighbouring Lebanon. they were ferried back to their own country in a special fleet of buses. The new federation is the Arab World's most important effort to achieve a united front since the failure of the Syrian-Egyptian federation a decade ago.
Still in Lebanon, Egyptians queued to vote outside their Embassy in Beirut. Despite the almost unanimous voting, much hard work remains to be done on the federation. Cairo has suggested it may take a couple of years to co-ordinate economic, political and social activities.