Lebanon Faces International Pressure to Hold Elections on Time

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Lebanon Faces International Pressure to Hold Elections on Time

Lebanon’s political parties have expressed contradictory positions on the fate of next year’s parliamentary elections.

The term of the current legislature ends on May 21.

The Strong Lebanon parliamentary bloc, headed by MP Gebran Bassil, is preparing to file an appeal before the Constitutional Council against amendments to the electoral law, including a change of date of the elections, which are set for March 27.

Minister of Interior Bassam Mawlawi is meanwhile expected to sign a decree calling on the electoral bodies to participate in the voting process. The decree will then be signed by Prime Minister Najib Mikati, who in turn, will send it to President Michel Aoun for his final approval.

However, speculation is rife over the possibility that the president would delay signing the decree, pending the decision of the Constitutional Council regarding the challenge submitted by Bassil, Aoun’s son-in-law.

In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat, political sources questioned whether the required quorum would be secured for the convening of the Council, meaning the presence of eight out of ten judges, who are equally distributed between Muslims and Christians. The sources stressed in this regard that confessional and sectarian divisions could also affect the positions within the Council.

According to the sources, accepting the appeal within the legal period of one month from the date of its submission would not impede the elections. They explained that such acceptance would remain within the limits of setting another date for the polls.

By signing the decree pertaining to the electoral bodies, Mikati intends to pass an irrevocable message to the international community about his determination to hold the elections on time, in compliance with his government’s ministerial statement and his commitment to the pledges made in this regard.

Therefore, the parliamentary elections cannot be separated - according to the same sources - from the political rift that was behind the crisis in Lebanese-Gulf relations, which requires the government to adopt a comprehensive approach to mend them.

Moreover, although the elections are an opportunity for re-establishing the current ruling authority, most of the so-called “political class” has not concealed its concern over the results that may see them lose seats at parliament even though the opposition has yet to unify and organize its ranks.

According to the sources, failure to hold the parliamentary elections would pit Lebanon against the international community, which has expressed its opposition to the ruling class extending the term of parliament.

Should the term be extended, the international community may respond by imposing sanctions on the involved parties.

 

Source: Asharq Al-Awsat