Van Hollen and Young urge administration to engage with Lebanon to support timely, free and fair parliamentary elections


April 28, 2022

Today, U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.) sent a bipartisan letter to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, urging the administration to engage with Lebanon to ensure fairness and transparency in its next parliamentary session. May 15 elections. In light of the ongoing political, economic and health crises in Lebanon, the senators stressed the importance of maintaining the scheduled elections and ensuring that they are conducted with integrity.

The senators begin, “We are writing to ask you to engage with your counterparts in Lebanon and urge them to organize the legislative elections scheduled for May 15 on time and in a fair and transparent manner. These polls can be a crucial first step in restoring the legitimacy of the Lebanese political process and laying the foundations for the implementation of essential economic reforms. And yet concerns remain that some officials may seek to postpone the next election in an effort to preserve their own political power. »

“As you know, Lebanon has been experiencing interrelated political, economic and health crises since at least 2019, when hundreds of thousands of Lebanese took to the streets to protest against political elites widely seen as responsible for decades of corruption and corruption. mismanagement “, they note.

The importance for Lebanon of proceeding with these parliamentary elections on time cannot be underestimated. This vote will be the first since the popular uprising of October 2019 and would be a crucial step in restoring confidence and stability in the Lebanese political process. We ask you to engage with your Lebanese counterparts to urge them to proceed with these elections on May 15, with appropriate funding allocated, and in a fair and transparent manner,” they conclude.

The full text of the letter is available here and below.

Dear Secretary Blinken:

We are writing to ask you to engage with your counterparts in Lebanon and urge them to organize the legislative elections scheduled for May 15 on time and in a fair and transparent manner. These polls can be a crucial first step in restoring the legitimacy of the Lebanese political process and laying the foundations for the implementation of essential economic reforms. And yet concerns remain that some officials may seek to postpone the next election in an effort to preserve their own political power.

As you know, Lebanon has been experiencing interrelated political, economic and health crises since at least 2019, when hundreds of thousands of Lebanese took to the streets to protest against political elites widely seen as responsible for decades of corruption and mismanagement. management. Protests and the ensuing political stalemate resulted in the absence of a functioning national government from October 2019 to September 2021. A deadly explosion in the port of Beirut on August 4, 2020 killed more than 200 people and injured and displaced thousands of people. Due to the current financial crisis, the Lebanese currency has lost more than 90% of its value since 2019 and more than 75% of the country’s population lives in poverty. Shortages of medicine, water, food and fuel, compounded by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, further complicate efforts to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and severe energy shortages . While significant efforts are underway to increase Lebanon’s energy supply and implement the necessary financial reforms, the upcoming legislative elections that restore the government’s popular legitimacy will be essential to the implementation of the structural reforms that Lebanon requires.

In this context, in December 2021, the Lebanese Ministry of the Interior scheduled its legislative elections for May 15, 2022. On February 4, 2022, the United Nations Security Council stressed “the importance of holding free elections, fair, transparent and inclusive as planned on May 15, 2022, ensuring the full, equal and meaningful participation of women as candidates and voters in the elections, and called on the Lebanese government to allow the Election Monitoring Commission to discharge of its mandate, in particular by providing it with adequate resources and launching the process of nominating candidates. On February 15, the Lebanese government approved the allocation of $18 million to organize the legislative elections – a positive step, although concerns remain that some officials may still seek to use the country’s financial crisis as a pretext to postpone the vote.

The importance for Lebanon of proceeding with these parliamentary elections on time cannot be underestimated. This vote will be the first since the popular uprising of October 2019 and would be a crucial step in restoring confidence and stability in the Lebanese political process. We ask you to engage with your Lebanese counterparts to urge them to proceed with these elections on May 15, with appropriate funding allocated, and in a fair and transparent manner. Thank you for your attention to this topical issue.

Sincerely,



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