BEIRUT: Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk called on Syrian refugees Thursday not to hold any political meetings or gatherings, saying they could affect the fragile security situation in Lebanon.
The call comes ahead of the presidential election in Syria, which is scheduled for June 3.
Machnouk asked refugees “not to hold any political gatherings, and not to hold public meetings with political dimensions that could in any way affect the security and stability of Lebanon, or the relationship between Syrian refugees and Lebanese citizens,” according to a statement released by the Interior Ministry.
According to the statement, the decision was taken in accordance with the government’s policy of disassociation from the Syrian crisis and to ensure that relations between Lebanese citizens and Syrian refugees remain stable.
The statement added that refugees had the right to exercise their “freedom and political choice," insofar as they observe "the rules of Lebanese national security.”
Machnouk also asked the United Nations and international organizations to maintain their responsibilities toward the refugees and work on notifying them about the ministry's decision and to follow up on its implementation.
The minister also called on the Lebanese security forces “to not be lenient in dealing firmly with any act or activity that could destabilize internal security.”
Lebanon is hosting over 1 million Syrian refugees.