BEIRUT: Cabinet has yet to publish a decree calling on the electorate to participate in upcoming Parliamentary elections, with the legal deadline for publication ending on Monday Aug. 18 - another sign that the poll will most likely be postponed again.
“I have sent the decree to Cabinet within legal deadlines,” said Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk to An-Nahar newspaper Sunday.
"I have carried out my duties in full," he added.
The invitation for the electorate to participate in upcoming elections must be delivered ninety days before the date of Parliamentary polls which are set for November 16.
The decree calling on the electorate to vote must be published before Monday, August 18th, as per the constitutional deadline for issuing the bill.
A failure in issuing the decree before then would constitute a breach of the ninety day time limit to challenge the election before the State Council.
The decree also requires the signatures of all twenty-four ministers in accordance with the mechanism adopted by Cabinet, allowing it to exercise the powers of the President.
Earlier this month, Machnouk issued the decree calling on resident and non-resident members of the electorate to participate in upcoming elections on the basis of the enforced electoral law No. 25/2008.
Machnouk issued the decree to Cabinet in accordance with constitutional deadlines.
The Interior Minister had also issued another degree regarding the formation of the supervisory council overseeing election campaigns.
However, last week, Machnouk said that security agencies had advised against holding the parliamentary elections scheduled in November, setting the stage for another possible extension of Parliament's mandate.
The time limit of ninety days is binding and elections must be held a few days before the end of Parliament’s mandate in order to prevent a parliamentary vacuum, constitutional expert Hasan al-Rifai said to An-Nahar .
In the event of a delay in the issuance of the decree and its publication, Parliament could amend the law and delay the date of elections by the same amount of days in which it delayed the issuance of the decree, added Al-Rifai.
“It is the so-called technical extension in order to avoid the occurrence of a vacuum,” he said.
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.
Last year in March, lawmakers voted to extend their mandate for 17 months, citing security concerns following months of futile talks on a draft electoral law to replace the current one – the so-called 1960 election law.
Since then, MPs have failed to resume discussions on a new law amid opposition by mainly Christian parties against holding the poll based on the current electoral law.
Several officials have hinted that upcoming parliamentary polls would be delayed in light of the deteriorating security in the country due to the raging conflict in neighboring Syria.