EU Welcomes Electoral Law, Offers 'Support for Preparation, Holding of Elections'

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The Spokesperson of EU High Representative Federica Mogherini on Friday described the Lebanese parliament's approval of a new electoral law as “an important step towards fully functioning democratic institutions in Lebanon.”

“Following on the election of the President and the appointment of a new government at the end of 2016, the agreement to hold democratic elections under the new law will enable the government to advance with the necessary economic and structural measures. This will contribute to stabilize the country and stimulate faster economic growth,” the spokesperson said.

“As a long-standing partner and friend of Lebanon, the European Union reaffirms its commitment to provide support for the preparation and the holding of the elections,” the spokesperson added.

“We will also continue to fulfill the commitments made in the EU-Lebanon Compact. We will continue to work closely together towards a stable, safe and democratic Republic of Lebanon living in peace, security and prosperity with the whole region,” the spokesperson emphasized.

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.