Paris has informed Lebanese leaders that the parliamentary polls would be held on time in May 2022, before the end of the current parliament’s mandate, stressing that the dispute over the electoral law would not hinder the elections, which are the mandatory path to re-establishing the authority In Lebanon, a European diplomatic source told Asharq Al-Awsat.
The official noted that the international support group was currently studying taking a supportive stance for Paris’ insistence on holding the parliamentary elections on time, which would include a direct warning to the ruling authorities of the serious political damage to Lebanon if the elections were postponed.
He noted that the current election law, which is still valid, will be adopted if an agreement was not reached over a new law. However, the source stressed that some parties’ call for early parliamentary polls were only attempts of intimidation, as the current parliament’s term ends in only 11 months.
The same source considered that holding the elections on time should come in parallel with efforts to provide the minimum factors of stability for the Lebanese to avoid a social explosion. This would require the formation of a government that adopts the reforms included in French President Emmanuel Macron’s initiative to save Lebanon.
“Such a government would be capable of negotiating with the IMF to provide a dose of support that would secure the required oxygen for the state,” according to the European diplomatic official.
Moreover, the source underlined that the French support for the Lebanese army was aimed at helping the military institution and other security forces to assume their role in maintaining stability.
In this context, Paris is preparing to hold an international conference to support the military institution while waiting for the formation of the government as a condition for Lebanon to receive aid that contributes to alleviating the suffering of the citizens.
Meanwhile, local parliamentary sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that Hussein Khalil, the political aide to Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, had contacted the head of the Free Patriotic Movement, Gibran Bassil, in the past hours, in preparation for a meeting to take place at any moment, bringing them together with Speaker Nabih Berri’s political assistant, MP Ali Hassan Khalil.
Accordingly, the negotiations to form a government enter a crucial stage with the tripartite meeting. Observers are waiting to see whether white smoke will rise from this meeting or will Bassil continue with his game of buying time.