ASIA/LEBANON - The Maronite Bishops: no interference of security services in political elections

Thursday, 8 March 2018 middle east   oriental churches   elections  

the Daily Star

Bkerke (Agenzia Fides) - The electoral process that will lead Lebanon to vote on 6 May to renew the composition of the national parliamentary assembly must guarantee free and independent elections, and must be defended against any danger of interference by "ministries, public administrations or security services". This is what the Maronite Bishops said on Wednesday, March 7 at the Patriarchal headquarters of Bkerké, under the presidency of Patriarch Bechara Boutros Rai. At the end of their periodic meeting, the Maronite Bishops also stressed the difficulty encountered by many Lebanese in understanding the functioning of the electoral law, based on a proportional system and on the use of preferences. The uncertainties and misunderstandings related to the electoral system risk, according to the Maronite Bishops, compromising "a real opportunity to achieve effective democratic change".
Those of the next May 6 will be the first general political elections convened in Lebanon since 2009. The renewal of the members of Parliament should have taken place in 2013, but the elections have been postponed several times by the same Parliament in office, also due to regional instability and the fact that the Country was without a president for a long time, almost two and a half years and ended on 31 October 2016 with the election of the new President, former General Michel Aoun, a Maronite Christian.
The approval of the new electoral law by the Lebanese Parliament took place last June (see Fides 17/6/2018). The introduction of the new electoral law was read by many observers at the time as a political victory for the Hezbollah Shiite Party. In fact, even the agreement that allowed Parliament to approve the new electoral system had seen the votes of the Hezbollah Shiites and the political formation Amal converge with the votes of the Sunnis of the Future Party (the political formation of Premier Saad Hariri) and with those of the two major Maronite Christian parties, the Free Patriotic Movement - founded by Lebanese president Michel Aoun - and the Lebanese Forces of Samir Geagea. Maronite priest, Rouphael Zgheib, national director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Lebanon, "The great compromise among different forces", he had declared to Agenzia Fides at the time "represents the essential key to reading this phase of national history".
In the new electoral system, Lebanon has been divided into 15 constituencies, relatively homogeneous from a confessional point of view. The new electoral system does not affect the rule - included in the Taif Agreements, with which the end of the civil war was sanctioned in 1989 - which states that half of the 128 deputies of Parliament must be Christians, and the other half made up of Muslim members - Shiites and Sunnis - and Druze. (GV) (Agenzia Fides 8/3/2018)