Berri Says Security Situation Forces Extension of Parliament's Term

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Speaker Nabih Berri stressed on Wednesday that current security situation prevents the government from carrying out elections in calm conditions, which compels the extension of the parliament's mandate.

“The purpose behind extending the tenure of the parliament is to avert any negative repercussions,” Berri said in comments published in several local newspapers.

Since the eruption of Syria's clashes in 2011, Lebanon has been witnessing several security incidents in Tripoli, along the Lebanese-Syrian border and in several other regions.

Berri expressed hope that lawmakers would be able to reach a new electoral law, pointing out that the same faces will be brought back to the parliament by the adoption of the 1960 law.

Asked about President Michel Suleiman's vow to challenge any attempt to extend parliament’s mandate, Berri said: “The president has the right to challenge any decision if he wants.”

“I will hold onto the necessity of holding the polls to have a rotation in power,” Suleiman said in an interview earlier in April.

Despite a support to extend the parliament's mandate, the caretaker cabinet decided to hold the polls on June 16 under the 1960 law by forming the authority that would supervise the elections and allocating funds for the interior ministry to organize the event.

The majority of the political blocs have voiced their rejection of the adoption of the amended version of the 1960 electoral law that was used in the 2009 elections.

This has not however prevented officials from submitting their candidacies to the elections based on this law in order to prevent uncontested victories.

Some parties are backing a six-month extension while others support a long-term 18-month extension.

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