Lebanese Parliament Extends Its Term By 17 Months

Lebanese parliament

Lebanese parliament has extended its term by 17 months because of deteriorating security conditions related to Syria’s civil war, Lebanon’s state run news agency has said.

The National News Agency says parliament has postponed elections from June until November 2014.

Dozens of people have been killed in Lebanon over the past two years in clashes between pro and anti-Syrian Lebanese groups, making it difficult to hold elections amid tension.

The decision is widely seen as a blow to Lebanon’s tradition of free elections in a region known for autocratic governments, but it may help lower tensions at a critical time for the fragile and deeply divided country.

Friday’s decision also comes after rival blocs in the 128-member legislature failed to agree on a new elections law.

Meanwhile, Lebanese prime minister Tammam Salam has said that Lebanon should stay out of the Syria conflict, adding that Hezbollah’s involvement is “not helping matters”.

The Lebanon-based Shiite movement Hezbollah has sent its fighters to help Syrian President Bashar Al Assad troops recapture the key town of Qusayr near the border with Lebanon.

“Lebanon has all the more need to keep its distance from what is going on in Syria given that the situation there is so heated,” he told the French daily Le Figaro in an interview published Friday.

“We must at all price preserve national unity.

“And obviously, Hezbollah’s military involvement is not helping matters.”

Hezbollah’s intervention was not a reason to give up efforts to keep Lebanon out of the Syria conflict, he insisted.

“We have to convince Hezbollah to not get any deeper into Syria,” he said.

In an interview broadcast Thursday, Assad acknowledged that Hezbollah fighters were helping his forces in the battle for Qusayr and said he was “very confident” of victory.

He also threatened Israel with renewed fighting in the Golan Heights and said Russia was committed to supplying him with advanced missiles.

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