Int'l Support Group Lauds Approval of Electoral Law, Offers Technical Assistance
The members of the International Support Group (ISG) for Lebanon on Friday welcomed the Lebanese parliament's approval of a new electoral system.
“The ISG sees this as a further step towards the reactivation of Lebanon's institutions of state and the normalization of Lebanese political life, which will in turn be conducive to addressing pressing concerns of Lebanon's citizens, and to enhanced cooperation with the international community,” they said in a statement.
“In the spirit of continued political progress, members of the ISG stress that the timely conduct of peaceful and transparent parliamentary elections, in accordance with the Constitution, and reflecting the country's democratic traditions, will be important to sustain progress achieved to date,” they added.
The ISF members also noted that it is important that technical delays are “dealt with effectively so as to allow for the prompt organization of elections.”
“In this regard, ISG members are willing to provide Lebanon with relevant technical assistance,” they announced.
The ISG also noted “the importance of achieving the meaningful participation of women candidates in the electoral process, as also foreseen in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted in 2015, with a view to increasing women representation in the decision-making bodies of Lebanese institutions.”
The International Support Group brings together the United Nations and the governments of China, France, Germany, Italy, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States, together with the European Union and the Arab League.
It was launched in September 2013 by the U.N. Secretary-General with then-President Michel Suleiman to help mobilize support and assistance for Lebanon’s “stability, sovereignty and state institutions and to specifically encourage assistance for the Lebanese Army, Syrian refugees in Lebanon and host communities and government programs and public services impacted by the Syrian crisis.”
Earlier in the day, Lebanon's parliament approved a long-awaited electoral law after months of political wrangling.
The law paves the way for the first parliamentary elections in nine years.
The deal comes after a stalemate that has seen the country's parliament extend its term twice since the last elections in 2009.
Under the agreement, the current parliament's term will be extended once again, but this time for just 11 months to prepare for elections under the new rules in May 2018.
The new law replaces the existing winner-takes-all voting system with proportional representation and reduces the number of electoral districts.
Lebanon recognizes 18 official religious sects and its 128 parliamentary seats are divided equally between Muslims and Christians, an arrangement unique in the region.