Municipal elections planned for Lebanon later this year must be free and fair, a senior United Nations official said March 23 as he urged the country’s political leaders to continue to pursue dialogue to ensure that tensions are eased ahead of the polls. Michael Williams, the U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon, spoke to reporters in Beirut after meeting Prime Minister Saad Hariri to brief him on recent developments, particularly the Security Council briefing on Lebanon earlier this month. He noted that the Lebanese Parliament is discussing draft reforms for the municipal elections – including races for local council members and town and village leaders – that are scheduled to take place later this year. Responding to questions from journalists, the Special Coordinator also called on all sides to do more to fully implement the Security Council resolution from 2006 that ended that year’s conflict between Israel and Hezbollah. (U.N. News Service)

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