Lebanon’s caretaker government calls for parliamentary elections on June 16

By bne IntelliNews May 28, 2013

Lebanon’s caretaker cabinet met late Monday (May 27) and decided to hold the long-anticipated parliamentary elections on June 16 in a purely administrative move as the polls will most probably be postponed for at least one year, daily Assafir reported. Following months of political bickering, Lebanon’s rival camps, the March 14 Alliance and the March 8 Alliance, failed to agree on a unifying electoral law and thus the caretaker government said the polls will be held under the old and controversial 1960 law. The latter adopts the ‘qada’ as an electoral district and is based on a winner-takes-all system.

The parliament, whose mandate expires on June 20, will convene before May 31, to decide on the extension of its term. Lebanon’s rival political blocks implicitly all want to delay any elections pending the result of the Syrian turmoil and the support to extend the current parliament’s mandate is rapidly growing. The extension of the parliament’s term is said to be crucial amid worsening security situation in the northern city of Tripoli and other Lebanese areas.

Following the cabinet’s meeting, outgoing PM Najib Mikati admitted that there are efforts to extend the parliament’s term due to “extraordinary circumstances.”

Lebanon’s political elite is split into two completely rival alliances that boast totally different agendas. The March 14 Alliance formed from a majority Sunni bloc led by former PM Saad Hariri and part of the Christian parties. The March 8 Alliance is led by Shiite Hizbollah and Christian leader Michel Aoun who heads the Free Patriotic Movement. The March 14 Alliance is strongly linked to the US and Saudi Arabia while the March 8 Alliance is seen close to Syria and Iran.

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