BEIRUT: U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Derek Plumbly stressed Monday on the need for Lebanon to hold the 2013 parliamentary elections on time and urged political leaders to commit to distancing the country from events escalating in neighboring Syria.
"In my view, it is very important that the elections take place on time. Lebanon is a country with a long democratic history and the present period is one of a spread of democracy across the Arab world. I am confident elections here will take place on time," Plumbly told reporters at the Grand Serail.
His remarks came after meeting with Prime Minister Najib Mikati.
“Against the backdrop of recent events I would like to take this opportunity to underline again the need for all concerned to commit to this and to give absolute priority to keeping Lebanon safe,” the U.N. official said.
“The United Nations has been clear in its condemnation of the recurrent violations of the country’s borders. We have been equally clear in our support for the efforts of the president, the prime minister and the country’s leaders collectively to distance Lebanon from the worst effects of the crisis,” he added.
Lebanon’s rival leaders agreed in June to distance the country from regional conflicts, particularly events in Syria.
As for the increasing number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Plumbly said the U.N. launched an updated financial appeal to address the growing needs of the estimated 85,000 refugees who have fled violence in their home country.
Plumbly said he discussed with Mikati cooperation between the government, the United Nations and non-governmental organizations in addressing the needs of the refugees. He described the cooperation as “close,” particularly that the winter season is approaching.
The two officials also discussed the security situation in Lebanon.
“The prime minister updated me on the government’s latest plans for support for the army, which we welcome,” Plumbly said, referring to the $1.6 billion plan approved by Cabinet last month to boost the Lebanese Army’s capabilities.
Plumbly also said that the U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s next report on the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1701 would be issued at the end of the month.
“We [Plumbly and Mikati] both welcomed the calm which has held along the Blue Line, and which must continue,” the U.N. official said.
Head of the U.N. Interim Forces in Lebanon Maj. Gen. Paola Serra said Sunday that south Lebanon was witnessing its calmest phase, attributing the peace to ongoing coordination between the peacekeepers and the Lebanese military.