BEIRUT: U.S. Ambassador Maura Connelly Tuesday urged Lebanon to abide by its constitutional principles and hold parliamentary elections on time.
Connelly, who met Interior Minister Marwan Charbel, “encouraged Lebanon to uphold its democratic and constitutional principles and hold elections on time,” a U.S. Embassy statement said.
According to the statement, she welcomed the Interior Ministry’s efforts to prepare for the elections.
Rival lawmakers have yet to agree on an electoral law to govern the upcoming elections, which are due in early June, raising concerns that the polls will be postponed.
During their talks at the Interior Ministry, Connelly discussed bilateral ties as well as the political and security situation in Lebanon and regional events, the embassy statement said.
“They also discussed U.S. support for training and equipping the Internal Security Forces,” it added.
Connelly also hailed efforts by the police and Lebanese Army in working with political leaders to maintain peace and stability.
The U.S. envoy also discussed a new five-year program titled “Building Alliance for Local Advancement, Development and Investment” (BALADI) worth $27.1 million from the U.S. Agency for International Development.
The program aims “to promote innovation in public service among municipalities, groups of municipalities, and municipal unions.”
BALADI, according to the statement, “provides in-kind grants on an annual basis for projects that meet citizens’ needs and bring citizens and their local governments to work together to meet those goals and promote local economic growth and development.”
The U.S. diplomat also voiced her government’s condolences for the recent death of a member of the police force in a road accident.
“Connelly also conveyed the United States’ condolence for the death of an ISF officer in a traffic accident yesterday,” the statement said.
A transport truck carrying women prisoners smashed into a Lebanese police escort on the Karantina highway in Beirut Monday, killing a policeman and wounding four people, including inmates.
Further information about the BALADI program, which will officially be launched on Feb. 18., can be found at www.baladi-lebanon.org.