Rifi Questions Electoral Neutrality of Government, Interior Ministry
Former justice minister Maj. Gen. Ashraf Rifi has questioned the electoral neutrality of Prime Minister Saad Hariri's government and the Interior Ministry, calling for the formation of a technocrat cabinet that would oversee the upcoming parliamentary elections.
In remarks to Kuwaiti daily al-Seyassah published Sunday, Rifi, who achieved a stunning victory in Tripoli's 2016 municipal polls, demanded “an objective and neutral management of the upcoming parliamentary vote.”
“More than half of the government's members will run in the elections and it is normal that they will seek to achieve their personal interests,” Rifi noted.
“We have demanded an elections government and the resignation of the current government,” the ex-minister added, stressing that he questions “the integrity of Prime Minister Saad Hariri's government in the upcoming parliamentary elections.”
“We have the experience of the last municipal polls, when the Ministry of Interior and Municipalities was not neutral, independent or objective in the management of the elections,” Rifi explained.
“We highly suspect that the Beirut and Tripoli polls were rigged under the same interior minister, and this pushes me to question the neutrality of the government and the neutrality of the Interior Ministry,” the ex-minister added.
On Friday, the parliament approved a long-awaited electoral law after months of political wrangling.
The law paves the way for the first parliamentary elections in nine years.
The deal comes after a stalemate that has seen the country's parliament extend its term twice since the last elections in 2009.
Under the agreement, the current parliament's term will be extended once again, but this time for just 11 months to prepare for elections under the new rules in May 2018.
The new law replaces the existing winner-takes-all voting system with proportional representation and reduces the number of electoral districts.