EU to deploy election observation mission to Lebanon ahead of May vote
Parliamentary vote comes amid country’s continued economic meltdown and the still-open investigation into the massive deadly blast at Beirut’s port in 2020
BEIRUT (AP) — A delegation from the European Union election observers on Monday wrapped up a six-day visit to Lebanon during which they discussed the deployment of observers ahead of the upcoming May 15 parliamentary elections in the crisis-hit country.
The observer mission said it will start deploying 30 observers throughout Lebanon later this week, with their numbers reaching more than 150 from 27 EU member states, Switzerland and Norway on the day of the vote.
During the visit, Gyorgy Holvenyi, head of the mission, discussed its work with top Lebanese officials, politicians and religious leaders.
The May 15 elections will be the first in Lebanon since the country’s economic meltdown began in October 2019.
A massive Aug. 4, 2020, explosion in Beirut’s port that killed more than 200 people, injured over 6,000 and caused wide damage in the Lebanese capital, precipitated the country’s crisis.
The Hezbollah terror group and its allies control the majority of seats in the current parliament. Their opponents are hoping to deprive them of this majority in the next month’s vote.
A total of 103 lists with 1,044 candidates are vying for the 128-seat legislature that is equally divided between Christians and Muslims. Parliamentary elections are held once every four years in Lebanon.
Holvenyi, a Hungarian politician currently serving as a member of the European Parliament, highlighted that the EU Election Observation Mission is impartial and independent, adding that it does not judge the electoral outcome or validate the results.
He said it will evaluate the electoral process and its compliance with regional and international commitments on political participation and democratic elections.
“We are not here to interfere in the process. We are not investigators,” Holvenyi said.