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Lebanon Minister Predicts 7 Months at Most to Prepare Parliamentary Polls | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Lebanese Speaker Nabih Berri holds talks with Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq on June 2. (Dalati & Nohra)

Lebanese Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq presented on Friday Speaker Nabih Berri with a study prepared by his ministry and the United Nations over the timeframe needed to prepare for the parliamentary elections now that the dispute over the electoral law is nearing its conclusion.

Mashnouq told reporters that “at least six months, seven at most, were needed to prepare for the polls.”

The elections are expected to be staged for the first time based on the proportional representation law “with technical complications” that need time to be overcome, he explained.

He added that concerned judges, heads of ballot boxes and administrative employees needed to be trained given the country’s first-time experience with the new law.

The study between the Interior Ministry and UN found that the vote count can only be performed electronically, which requires magnetic ballots and a number of other technical details, revealed Mashnouq.

All this demands training for the voters, judges and employees that can be achieved through an intense and long-term media campaign, he reiterated.

“We reached an understanding with Berri that these issues have nothing to do with politics…. He proposed that a ministerial committee chaired by the prime minister should be formed to discuss this issue,” he stressed.

Asked about the available funds to finance this operation, Mashnouq replied: “We have not yet reached this point. We have the ability to garner aid from UN institutions and donor countries that encourage the democratic process.”

“This will definitely be a costly operation, but time is more important than the cost,” he stated.

Parliament’s term is due to expire on June 20, after lawmakers extended their own mandate twice without election since 2013. Current lawmakers were elected in 2009 for what was meant to be a four-year term.