Wednesday, April 14, 2010

UN envoy voices hope for calm and safe Lebanese municipal elections

13 April 2010 – The top United Nations envoy to Lebanon today stressed the need to ensure a calm and safe atmosphere ahead of the country’s municipal elections, which are slated to be held next month.
Michael Williams, the UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, discussed the preparations for the forthcoming polls with the country’s Minister of Social Affairs, Salim Sayegh, in the capital, Beirut.

“I trust that this process will take place in a democratic and safe atmosphere free from intimidation,” Mr. Williams said in a statement following the meeting.

He also welcomed the decision taken on 9 March by the last session of the national dialogue, a political reconciliation process in which all political parties agreed to maintain a calm atmosphere in the period leading up to the elections.

The four rounds of the 2010 municipal elections are scheduled to be held every Sunday in May starting in Beirut, followed by the Bekaa region, then south Lebanon and finally in north Lebanon, according to media reports.

Mr. Williams added that he looks forward to further progress by the national dialogue, which will meet again on 15 April, to keep channels of communication open among the difference political sides in the country.

He and Mr. Sayegh also discussed the general situation in Lebanon and in particular the implementation of resolution 1701, the Security Council resolution that ended the 2006 conflict between Israel and Hizbollah.

The resolution calls for respect for the so-called Blue Line separating the Israeli and Lebanese sides, the disarming of all militias operating in Lebanon and an end to arms smuggling in the area.