International Support Group Urges Lebanon to ‘Avoid Vacancy’

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The International Support Group for Lebanon has urged Lebanon to hold the presidential elections on time and free of foreign meddling, the U.N. announced on Monday.

Speaking to the press after meeting with Speaker Nabih Berri on Monday, U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Derek Plumbly said that “the presidential election process is now entering a crucial phase, with less than two weeks remaining until May 25” when President Michel Suleiman’s six-year term expires.

Plumbly emphasized that the polls are an entirely Lebanese process, “which should remain free of foreign interference.”

He stressed that Lebanon’s friends in the international community have a keen interest in the successful completion of the elections, on time and in accordance with the Constitution.

He said he discussed the matter with the International Support Group for Lebanon, which includes the five permanent members of the Security Council.

The group agreed that a “vacancy in the presidency should be avoided,” the diplomat said.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s spokesperson Stephane Dujarric briefed on Monday reporters in New York about Plumbly’s meeting.

He also said UNIFIL Commander Maj. Gen. Paolo Serra will investigate reports that Israeli soldiers violated the U.N.-drawn Blue Line during maintenance works.

An Israeli army infantry force crossed on Sunday the Blue Line in the al-Labbouneh border area and uprooted trees.

The unit also lifted a cement block that belongs to the Lebanese army.

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