05/05/2005, 00.00
LEBANON
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United Nations presses for free and credible polls in Lebanon

Security Council insists on conducting elections on planned date and expresses concern over lack of progress on militia disarmament.

Beirut (AsiaNews) – People in Beirut took notice of a statement by the UN Security Council saying it was important for elections to "take place on schedule" this month in Lebanon, urging Beirut to seek international help to ensure "free and credible polls", and stressing the need to implement Resolution 1559 insofar as it calls for the disarming of militias.

The Security Council's declaration said that "a delay in the parliamentary elections would further exacerbate political divisions in Lebanon and threaten the security, stability and prosperity of the country."

In the statement, read out by the current Council's President—Danish Ambassador Ellen Margrethe Løj—, the "Council encouraged the Secretary-General and the Government of Lebanon to reach arrangements for international assistance, including United Nations assistance, to ensure that such elections would be conducted in a free and credible manner."

It acknowledged that "the parties concerned have made significant and noticeable progress" towards implementing some of the provisions contained in Resolution 1559, which demanded the withdrawal of Syrian troops, but expressed concern at the lack of progress on the implementation of other provisions of the resolution, in particular "the disarmament of Lebanese and non-Lebanese militia and the extension of the control of the Government of Lebanon over all Lebanese territory."

The Security Council finally called on the governments of Syria and of Lebanon to extend their "full cooperation" to the United Nations verification team in the country to monitor the total withdrawal of Syrian troops from the land of the Cedar. (YH)

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