BEIRUT: The deteriorating security situation in Lebanon precludes the possibility of holding transparent elections, Lebanese Democratic Party head MP Talal Arslan said following talks with Speaker Nabih Berri, adding that his party seeks an extension of Parliament’s term.
“I informed the speaker in all honesty our demands for an extension of Parliament’s mandate by a period of two years, particularly given that the security situation prevents holding the democratic and transparent elections,” Arslan said after meeting Berri in Beirut.
“How can there be democracy and transparency, freedom of movement for the electorate, safety of the ballot boxes and the freedom of expression under the current circumstances?” he asked.
He described his party’s demand for extension of Parliament’s mandate as the “optimal” course of action given the growing deterioration of the country’s situation.
“I also informed Speaker Berri of my complete support for MP Walid Jumblatt’s proposal yesterday [Friday] after [the latter’s] visit to Speaker Berri,” Arslan said.
Jumblatt, after talks with the Parliament head Friday, said the security situation in Lebanon meant now was not time “to enter the elections charade” and that he supported an extension of Parliament’s term.
President Michel Sleiman opposes a protracted extension of Parliament but says he will support giving the legislature a limited renewal.
Patriarch Beshara Rai Friday “totally” rejected an extension to Parliament’s mandate, “to preserve democracy and the rotation of power in Lebanon.”
Following a failure to reach a deal over a new electoral law for the June general elections, lawmakers’ options have been reduced to either extending their mandate or going ahead with the elections under the much-opposed 1960 law.
Asked about Berri’s preferences, Arslan said: “You need to ask him but what is certain is that Speaker Berri is concerned about the safety of the country, civil peace, co-existence, national unity and he is not adverse to any consensus proposal that is put to him.”