BEIRUT: The International Support Group for Lebanon (ISGL) called on Lebanon’s leaders to work intensively to ensure the election of a new president without delay, while highlighting the need for the current government to remain functional.
In a statement issued Monday on behalf of the ISGL following deliberations, U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Derek Plumbly said that the gathering regretted the failure of the Lebanese Parliament to elect a president within the timeframe set by the constitution.
“We underline again that there is no international impediment to [holding the presidential election]. On the contrary, while the process must remain a purely Lebanese one, Lebanon’s friends within the international community stand ready to offer Lebanon every possible encouragement and support at this time,” Plumbly said.
The ISGL called on Lebanon’s leaders to ensure that the government of Prime Minister Tammam Salam is able in this new circumstance “to act effectively - as it has to date - to address the economic, security and humanitarian challenges facing the country, and to meet Lebanon’s international obligations.”
The ISGL - created in New York last year to support the country’s national institutions and Army- reiterated its commitment to a continued support for, and partnership with, the Lebanese government as it seeks to achieve these objectives.
Earlier Monday, Speaker Nabih Berri called for a session to elect a new president on June 9.
The June 9 session will be the first one to be held after the constitutional deadline expired on May 25. Six sessions held prior to May 25 failed to elect a new head of state.
“We underline again the importance for confidence and stability in avoiding a prolonged vacancy in the presidency,” the ISGL statement said. “We also stress the importance of parliamentary elections being held on time in accordance with democratic practice.”
After the term of the current Parliament was extended for 17 months in May last year, parliamentary elections are ideally scheduled to be held in November.
The ISGL also paid tribute to former President Michel Sleiman, praising his leadership skills during six critical years and his commitment to Lebanon’s unity and stability.
They also hailed Sleiman for keeping Lebanon safe against the backdrop of the conflict in Syria and for his international cooperation, not least in respect to the ISGL and the implementation of United Nations resolutions, in particular resolution 1701.