BEIRUT: Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk launched preparations Wednesday for Parliamentary elections due to take place November, and issued a decree inviting the electorate to participate in the upcoming elections.
The decree calling on resident and non-resident members of the electorate to participate in the elections was issued on the basis of the enforced electoral law No. 25/2008, and was sent to Cabinet in accordance with constitutional deadlines.
The Interior Minister had previously issued a degree to Cabinet regarding the formation of the supervisory council overseeing election campaigns.
Machnouk is set to address relevant bodies on the appointment of new members of the supervisory council.
Earlier Wednesday, House Speaker Nabih Berri rejected any extension of Parliament’s mandate, saying that he had already called on the Interior Ministry to prepare for forthcoming elections.
As the presidential vacuum drags on into its third month with no solution in sight, the stage is being set for a possible new extension of Parliament’s mandate, which expires in November.
Parliament has failed to elect a new president for the 10th time since April, due to a lack of quorum to pick a successor to the former president, Michel Sleiman, whose six-year term ended on May 25.
Machnouk also met with US Ambassador to Lebanon David Hale Wednesday, with the two discussing escalating tensions in Arsal and the pressing need to support the Lebanese Army.
The Interior Minister spoke of the importance of coordination between the US Embassy in Beirut and the Internal Security Forces, saying that coordination agreements were put in place to reinforce the role of the ISF.
Following his meeting with Hale, Machnouk met with UN Humanitarian Coordinator Ross Mountain.
The Interior Minister spoke on the importance of coordination between all relevant parties “in order to protect civilians and provide safe passage for wounded Lebanese civilians to leave Arsal,” and called for “cooperation between the Army, the UN and the Red Cross in delivering humanitarian aid to the residents of Arsal.”
For his part, Mountain spoke of cooperation projects between the UN and the Interior Ministry, “like the project reinforcing Lebanese civil defense and the project supporting upcoming elections.”
A clash emerged Saturday in Arsal, an eastern town bordering Syria, after militants from groups fighting in Syria attacked Army bases attempting to take over the mostly Sunni-village.
Confrontations have continued despite truce attempts, killing 17 Army soldiers and at least 12 civilians.
A preliminary cease-fire was breached by an assault on the Army Wednesday, prompting the latter to resume its military campaign against the extremist jihadists.