FRI 20 - 4 - 2018
Apr 6, 2018
The Daily Star
Lebanon: Machnouk calls for bribes crackdown ahead of elections
BEIRUT: Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk called Thursday for state security services to tighten security measures and crack down on violations ahead of upcoming parliamentary elections.
Machnouk specifically noted the fight against electoral bribes – whereby candidates or parties buy votes – and called on suspects to be referred to the judiciary. He also stipulated that the judiciary should take a firmer stance towards those who violated these laws.
Machnouk’s comments, reported in a statement from his office, came during an extraordinary meeting with the Central Security Council, in which the heads of Lebanon’s security and intelligence agencies were present.
Discussions also touched on means of ensuring the protection of polling stations and centers during voting, which is slated to take place on May 6, and a traffic plan to facilitate the movement of citizens to and from voting centers.
Despite the new electoral law’s provisions to allow voting from one’s place of residence in mega-centers, voters in the 2018 elections will in fact be required to vote in their hometowns.
Machnouk assured Lebanese voters of the security forces’ readiness to prevent any “occurrence that might disturb the electoral process.” Other topics “that were kept secret” were also discussed.
The minister also met with representatives of ArabiaGIS, a Lebanon-based company that has been endorsed by the United Nations Development Program to technically assist the state with the electoral results.
The company, which works on the digital processing of statistical information, among other things, reportedly presented Machnouk with a detailed model of how the new proportional electoral law will be implemented.
Those party to the meeting reportedly discussed the system’s mechanisms to deal with even the “strangest” elections results, “especially since this is the first time this law has been applied.”
The ArabiaGIS system was specifically designed for the new law, the statement said, and works in both paper and electronic mediums – as stipulated by the law.
ArabiaGIS agreed to provide a live simulation of the process of compiling and issuing the results of a district in the presence of stakeholders next week.
Meanwhile, Machnouk called on the committee responsible for preparing the elections to expedite the completion of the technical infrastructure in voter-registration centers.
Machnouk also called on the Electoral Supervisory Committee head, Judge Nadim Abdel-Malek, to follow up on the transfer of expatriate ballots from abroad, which will begin the day expatriate voting starts.
Lebanese living overseas will be able to vote between April 27 to 29. Machnouk also assigned an officer from the Interior Ministry’s Central Operations Room to follow up on the transport of these votes, the statement said. Concerns have been raised over the transparency of the expatriate vote; the new electoral law allows expats to vote from abroad for the first time in Lebanon’s history.
Lebanon’s first elections in nine years are set to be held in one month under a proportional system that has replaced a controversial majoritarian model.
Machnouk himself is in the running for a Sunni seat in the Beirut II district. His candidacy has raised concerns over potential conflicts of interest, given that he heads the ministry tasked with overseeing and implementing elections.
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