Interior Ministry prepares for holding on-time municipal elections

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2022-12-13 | 05:49
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Interior Ministry prepares for holding on-time municipal elections
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6min
Interior Ministry prepares for holding on-time municipal elections
The parliamentary elections took priority over the municipal and mukhtars elections scheduled for last May because it was more important to rearrange the legislative authorities. Still, the municipal and mukhtars councils were delayed for an entire year.
 
 
Most political parties desired not to think about the municipal and mukhtar disputes while they prepared for the parliamentary elections. Therefore it was decided to extend it for another year.

However, because there is no way to avoid casting a ballot to elect local administrations, the main forces "bought time."

Municipalities are one of the most significant foundations of administrative decentralization, which is also a topic o f intense discussion.

Municipal and mukhtar elections were held four times following the "Taif republic." They were held in 2004 under similar circumstances for the first time after the war in 1998 and the Syrian occupation. Elections were held in the 2010 and 2016 rounds after Syria withdrew, and the 2022 elections were delayed due to the abovementioned factors.

Many bodies are placing their bets on delaying this deadline once more to prevent more significant fragmentation because of prior experiences. The postponement is still viewed as unconstitutional and is subject to appeal.

According to Legislative Decree No. 118's Article 10, municipal councils have a six-year term in office. Comparatively, the four-year term of office for mukhtars and members of their councils, as stated in Article 15 of the Law of the mukhtars, has been changed to a six-year mandate starting from the election date.

When the first entitlement was held after "Taif," municipalities were 769, and this increased to 964 municipalities in 2010 and 1029 in 2016.

Currently, the number of municipalities is 1112. Municipal and mukhtar elections took place in May 2016 in 4 rounds, unlike the parliamentary elections, which have been taking place in one day since the 2009 elections.

The municipal elections will be held according to the majority election law, not proportionality because it will contribute to more fragmentation of the municipalities. In contrast, municipal work requires a homogeneous work team. Likewise, the election of expatriates will not be available as it was in the parliamentary elections, although the Parliamentary Municipalities Committee is still selecting proposals to amend the law.

In addition, the atmosphere in the Interior Ministry indicates that the municipal and mukhtar elections are taking place on time in May 2023, despite the presidential vacancy.

Here, a fundamental question arises: Can elections be held during a caretaker government? And what happens if we reach the legal deadlines with the expiration of the extended term of municipal and mukhtar councils and some parliamentary forces refuse to convene the Representative Council because it is considered an electorate to extend the municipal councils?

In light of the presidential vacancy, the experience of 2016 is recalled when municipal and mukhtar elections were held. The Tammam Salam government was successful in having this entitlement; however, Mikati's cabinet is a caretaker one.

The constitutional opinion confirms that the caretaker cabinet can conduct municipal and mukhtar elections because this work is included in the constitution under the principle of necessity to ensure the continuity of the elected local administrations.

However, regarding the disbursement of funds, the caretaker cabinet can meet similarly to the meeting that took place last week to legally secure these credits if there is a political decision to do so.

As for the extension of municipal and mukhtar councils, it is contrary to the constitution, and in 1996 the Constitutional Council issued a jurisprudence that considered this matter unconstitutional. 

Still, the ruling authorities, despite this decision, continued to extend local administrations until 1998 and then delayed them for a year in 2022.

But if the political decision does not allow municipal elections to be held and the parliament does not convene for the extension on the pretext that it is an electorate body, then either the de facto municipal and mukhtar councils continue to conduct narrow business under the slogan "continuity of local facilities," or the municipalities' work is entrusted to the mayors, as is the case.

So, electing a new president is the easiest way to hold elections, and holding these elections in batches and not in one day puts less pressure on the Interior Ministry, which is preparing as if the elections are taking place tomorrow.

In addition to the logistical preparations, lists of eligible voters will be issued. At the same time, the security readiness is secured, and the devices are ready to cover this entitlement. There is no compelling security reason for not holding it, so all factors combine to hold the elections on time.

On the other hand, several international bodies are asking about this entitlement and approaching Mikati and Interior Minister Bassam al-Mawlawi in this regard. The answer was that the government is committed to holding municipal and mukhtars elections on time if a new president is not elected.

All data confirmed respect for holding municipal and mukhtars elections on time, which means that 'parties, forces, and families will drown in this great quagmire.' The mandate of the municipal and mukhtars councils ends at the end of next May. It is assumed that electorate bodies will be called two months before the end of the extended mandate unless the Interior Minister decides to reveal the date of the elections.

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