BEIRUT — A delegation from the Lebanese Forces (LF) parliamentary bloc on Thursday submitted an appeal to the Constitutional Council to invalidate the law extending the mandates of municipal councils and mukhtars (local officials responsible for records).
On April 18, Parliament passed a law extending the mandates of municipal councils and mukhtars for a maximum of one year.
Municipal elections, which were already postponed by one year in 2022, were originally scheduled to start May 7. If the newly adopted law remains valid, the terms of the municipal council members and mukhtars will expire no later than May 31, 2024.
The delegation from the "Strong Republic" parliamentary bloc included former deputy prime minister Ghassan Hasbani and MPs Fadi Karam, George Okais, Ghayath Yazbek and Razi al-Hage.
After filing the appeal, Hasbani said the initiative was launched in coordination with "a large part of the opposition forces on behalf of the Lebanese people to preserve democracy and the people's right to choose their local representatives and hold them accountable."
In April, caretaker Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi scheduled the dates for the country's next municipal elections in May. Mawlawi also demanded that authorities make a decision on financing the elections.
The LF, the Kataeb Party and the Progressive Socialist Party have all spoken out in favor of holding municipal elections, which were last held in 2016.
MPs from the Amal Movement, Hezbollah and the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) all attended the April 18 parliamentary session that passed the law extending the terms of municipal council members, but LF and Kataeb MPs, among others, boycotted that session, saying that the session was not constitutional.
Those who boycotted the session said they believe Parliament should only be empowered to elect a president until vacancy the vacancy is filled, as per the constitution.
'Nothing prevents' municipal elections
"This appeal will motivate the government to organize the elections and assume its responsibilities," said Hashabi, adding that "nothing prevents the authorities from organizing municipal elections before the expiry of the aforementioned deadline."
"The decision to extend the mandates is unconstitutional," said Lebanese Forces MP Georges Okais.
Last week, Constitutional Council President Tannous Mechleb told L'Orient-Le Jour that "the Constitutional Council will have to examine the law, in addition to the parliamentary debates that preceded its adoption, as well as the reasons invoked" in the appeal.
"The general principle is that elections must be held on the scheduled date," Mechleb insisted, stressing, however, that "exceptional circumstances justify exceptional legislation."