SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 17 October 2021, Sunday |

Aoun meets Minister of Interior and Municipalities, head of Maronite League

Minister of Interior and Municipalities, Judge Bassam Mawlawi, who met President Michel Aoun this afternoon at Baabda Palace, reiterated: “We are ready to hold the elections on time, without delay. The process of registering expatriates in (diplomatic) missions will begin tomorrow, Friday, October 1. The process will continue according to the legal deadline.”

He stressed that “all preparations are underway and we are able to complete the elections on time.”

He pointed out, that “With regard to expatriates voting, we are proceeding and have formed a committee that will determine the minutes of implementing the law that will be applied as it is, with regard to expatriates and residents. We are committed, according to the ministerial statement, to holding the elections according to the law in force and without any change and the government will not initiate any request to amend the law in force.

If the law is amended to have six expatriates MPs, this has to come from the House of Representatives.”

After the meeting with the president of the Republic, minister Mawlawi made the following statement:

“I had the honor of meeting His Excellency the President of the Republic, and as usual, I benefited from his experience and guidance in the government work that is required at this time, mainly regarding the preparation for the elections and the Election Supervisory Board.

We have started the procedures for appointing the Election Supervision Committee to exercise its role in the with regard to the media and electoral spending and all that secures the integrity of the electoral process. ”

He added: “His Excellency the President was briefed on my meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, on issue of expatriates’ voting, which we are proceeding.

We have formed a committee that will determine the minutes of implementing the law with regard to expatriates. I assured His Excellency that we will implement the law as it is, for expatriates and residents. We, as a government, are committed, according to the ministerial statement, to holding elections in accordance with the law in force and without any change. We discussed the general security situation in the country and the municipality conference.”

Minister Mawlawi, replied to a question about the willingness of some countries to send international observers for the elections, he said: “We always welcome international observers. I remember in 2005, there were international observers on elections.”

Asked about the constant skepticism about holding the parliamentary elections on time, he said: “The government has committed itself, in its ministerial statement to completing the parliamentary elections on time and was very clear. The government continues on its promise, and it will hold the elections. We will work to secure all the required obligations.

I have two main concerns: security and elections, and security for elections. We are ready to hold the elections on time, without any delay. The process of registering expatriates will begin tomorrow, Friday, October 1, and will continue according to the legal date. At home, all preparations are underway, the logistical matters are there, and the required equipment, including computers and others are ready. We are able to complete the elections on time, prepare the electoral lists and turn them into cross-listed lists and send them on time.”

Asked on amendments to have six expatriate MPs, he said: “The government does not have a say whether the matter needs to be amended or not. This matter is up to the legislation and parliament. We, as a government, will not initiate any request for amendment. We will apply the law as it is. If the law is amended with respect to the six MPs of expatriates, it has to come from the House of Representatives, and we apply the law formulated by the representatives. We will not initiate any bill regarding the amendment of any text of the electoral law.

Asked about the magnetic card and the megacenter, he replied: “The megacenter is a reform revolution in the world of elections, but the megacenter is not stipulated in the law. It is a very good idea, and we want to implement it, but it must be codified. The megacenter is linked to the magnetic card, we cannot create it without the magnetic card in it. How can the voter vote in Beirut, while he is registered in Akkar or the south? This does not happen if we do not have a magnetic card with all the data in it. The process was tried in Lebanon before. If we are able to do it, we will do so. And if we are not able, the elections will be as they happened In 2018. In any case, this issue was brought before the Constitutional Council in one of the appeals in 2018.

I will not accept that the failure to take these steps is a pretext for not holding the elections. Neither would the government as a whole, nor His Excellency the President.

Asked whether there would be quotas in the formation of the election supervisor committee, he replied: “The law determines how the election supervisory committee will be formed.

I do not see quotas. We are all one team and one hand, and we are all working the right way. Where is the quota? Based on my suggestion, the Cabinet will select the ones with competence and experience in electoral matters.”

President of the Maronite League, former MP Neamtallah Abi Nasr,

visited President Aoun and discussed the general situation in the country.

After the meeting, Mr. Abi Nasr, said he had proposed to the President of the Republic the necessity of implementing the law establishing the Kesrouan-Jbeil Governorate that was issued during the term of President Aoun.

He added, “I raised with His Excellency the President the issue of the parliamentary elections and the need of the expatriates’ participation because their participation was stipulated in Article 3 of the law, and it has become a legal and constitutional right because the electoral college is composed of residents and expatriates, and the elections will not be subject to revoke otherwise.