Saturday, May 28, 2022

UN chief urges free, transparent elections in Lebanon on May 15

UNITED NATIONS ( Associated Press) – The UN chief called for May 15 Lebanon’s parliamentary elections to be “free, fair, transparent and inclusive” in a report aired on Wednesday, and called for the prompt formation of a government thereafter that would address the country’s problems. Prioritizing the implementation of reforms addressing many crises.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a UN Security Council report that political polarization in the country has deepened and the Lebanese people “struggle daily to meet basic essential needs.” He pointed to the frequent protests across the country due to “the public’s dismay at the political situation and the economic and financial crisis”.

May 15 is the first election for parliament in Lebanon since the economic downturn began in late 2019. Government factions have done virtually nothing to address the collapse, leaving Lebanese to fend for themselves as they plunge into poverty without electricity, medicine, or garbage collection. Any other form of normal life.

Elections are held for the first time since the devastating explosion at the port of Beirut on August 4, 2020, which killed more than 215 people and devastated large parts of the city. The destruction sparked widespread outrage over the endemic corruption and mismanagement of traditional parties.

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Guterres, who visited Lebanon last December, said no one had yet been held responsible for the blast and that the Lebanese people were demanding “truth and justice”. He reiterated his call for a “speedy, fair, thorough and transparent investigation” and stressed that “the independence of the judiciary must be respected.”

In the May 15 election, there are a total of 103 lists with 1,044 candidates for the 128-seat assembly, which is divided equally between Christians and Muslims.

Self-declared opposition groups remain divided along ideological lines on almost every issue, including how to revive the economy, and as a result, each of the 15 electoral districts has, on average, at least three separate opposition lists, one 20. % has increased since the 2018 election.

Guterres noted that proposals submitted for women’s quotas over the past two years were still pending in parliament, and urged that a new government be formed quickly “with the full participation of women and youth”.

The Secretary-General’s semi-annual report on the implementation of the 2004 Security Council resolution reiterated that its key demands – that the Lebanese government establish its sovereignty over the entire country and that all Lebanese militias be disarmed and disbanded – have not been met.

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Guterres said Hezbollah’s “maintenance of large and sophisticated military capabilities beyond the control of the Lebanese government is a matter of grave concern.” He referred to Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s February announcement that it now has the ability to convert thousands of its missiles “into precision missiles” and has been building drones “for a long time”.

The Secretary-General urged the Lebanese state to “increase its efforts to achieve a monopoly on the possession of arms and the use of force throughout its territory”.

“I urge the Lebanese government and armed forces to take all necessary measures to prevent Hezbollah and other armed groups from acquiring weapons and building paramilitary capability outside the authority of the state,” the UN chief said. Council resolutions.

Guterres said Hezbollah’s continued involvement in the war in neighboring Syria also risks embroiling Lebanon in regional conflicts and undermining its stability.

He called on countries in the region with close ties to Hezbollah to encourage its disarmament and transformation into “a fully civilian political party”. Both Syria and Iran have close ties with Hezbollah.

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