Lebanon President Elias Hrawi and House Speaker Nabih Berri continue their unbated war of words since more than a week. P.Hrawi quoted by MPs who visited him that Mr Berri critics are bad for the country and damage its image. " it is unexpected to see such reactions to my suggestions which are originally my constitutional right", he said. He also was critical to Mr Berri remarks mentioning Druze like divorce and marriage of pleasure, describing " such words as extreme and should not be published in the media, reminded that he refused the expression or terminology troika which was at the beginning in 1991 a press description when he went with speaker and premier to New York to attend UN General Assembly session". He was quoted saying. He also said he is ready for cooperation with all Lebanese and recalled he called the speaker on the beginning of Ramadan. The visiting MPs observed that Hrawi attributed House Speaker campaign to only the constitutional amendments p.Hrawi proposed.
He said he is stick to those proposals because its in favor the country's interest and it will take right path through the Council of Ministers which in turn refer to the parliament who can take stand and decision.
On his part, the House Speaker Nabih Berri quoted saying " he believed in troika as a formula for work and lived with it for four years but it is a cover to enforce hegemony, to monopolize institutions and for embezzlement". he accused other partners of " posing as protectors of institutions but in fact have left no dignity for those institutions". He also said announced death of troika because his partners already poisoned , killed and mutilated it". He challenged the president to go ahead with the reforms he is proposing ", but Mr Berri did not explain what he will do to block it. Observers here see local medaitons are not sufficient anymore to heel the rift and a Syrian mediation which would start today is evident. the observers too list up more than one reason for the troika war as they put it, reasons include perhaps
1. the army promotions 2. the constitutional amendments 3.the presidential elections next year or the extension of term of p.Hrawi or 4. is it really the troika as a ruling system, recalled that it has served the three parties who manage to have satisfactory shares in everything and anything in this country.
Former prime minister Selim Hoss welcomed the troika death announcement which was an illness of Lebanon political life and unconstitutional, also it was evoking confessional sectarian sensitivity because each of the troika three parties regarded himself representing his community, consequently once a disagreement occur it will be figured as communal disagreement. Mr Hoss recalled that since p.Hrawi proposes constitutional reforms without or before he place it over the council of ministers, and speaker says he will block it or refuse it before it is debated by parliament, we can realise that the troika is live because each one considers himself his person a substitute to the institution. Many MPs wish the death of troika is real and factual because it will pave the way for constitutional institutions to play its role.
While Iranian ambassador in Lebanon considered yesterday Hebron deal as a pressure card which could be used by Israel in south Lebanon because it is a security not political agreement, the US charge d'affaires see the deal as a signal to go ahead to a ground that lead to progress not only on Palestinian track but also on each of the separate tracks of Lebanon and Syria.
Both diplomats conferred with foreign minister yesterday over the Hebron deal, separately, but same day. The Hizbullah and many Palestinian groups denounced the Hebron deal.
US charge d'affaires in Lebanon said yesterday the US State department and foreign minister analysis over the travel ban is in accordance with security situation in Lebanon not the political situation. Recalled that security in Lebanon is under constant observation and S. Christopher review the case every six months a. Two aides from the US House of Representatives' International Relations Committee are due to arrive to Beirut end of Jan to assess the security situation, but the visit indicating bad news for the Lebanese who are hoping an end to the 10 years travel ban.
The two officials will have meetings in Beirut with Lebanese defense ministry and the airport authority, also with US personnel.
Interest rates have been slashed by six per cent- the biggest margin in a year- to encourage private sector borrowing, a move bankers say reflects increased confidence in the economy.
The Banker's Association yesterday announced it had cut the prime lending rate from 24 percent to 18 per cent . Makram Sader, secretary general of the association said the cut was in line with the central bank's aim to reduce rates.
'We are cooperating with the central bank's policy of lowering interest rates on treasury bills. Because interest rates on treasury bills are very high investors are not willing to borrow in Lebanese Lira. " he said . He added that 87 percent of Lebanese bank's current lending is in dollars, paying interest rates of only 10.5 per cent. The last rate cut was in Jan 1996 from 30 to 24 percent.
Pilots union in Lebanon decided yesterday a one day strike coming Tuesday to pressure the national airliner MEA better pay and working conditions. The pilots accused MEA of not paying their compensations and the salary raises that they deserved. The strike will begin at midnight Monday.
Minister for displaced affairs Walid Jumblat apologized yesterday not to visit Prime Minister Rafic Hariri for unknown reasons even though news of the visit was circulated on press during the day. Mr Jumblat had met Jan 15 with House Speaker Nabih Berri and Hizbullah Secretary General Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah.
The Lebanese Syrian Supreme Council is to meet coming month and joint coordination committee is to hold meetings in coming two weeks to lay down agenda and prepare for the meeting.
Luxemburg foreign minister arrived to Beirut Jan 16 coming from Damascus on private jet in the framework of a tour in the M.E. The talks he is going to hold focus on European role in the peace process. It is recalled that Luxemburg will chair the European Union as of July.
Information minister Bassem Sabaa said yesterday receiving licenses for new radio and television stations to be finalized before it is referred to National Council of Information which will take decision.
Patriarch Sfair called yesterday the officials to lay down a basis which regards the safety of environment and same time preserve resources of the quarries workers. Governor of Mount Lebanon who conferred with Patriarch over the issue said the government firmly decided to close down quarries allover Lebanon . Same day H.E the Patriarch received a delegation of the quarries workers.
Prime Minister Rafic Hariri denied Jan 16 that government is going to privatize phone service neither now nor in future and that all the government is seeking is to have technical assistance to run the mail service which will not be privatized too.
Armenian parties argue and cast doubts on the closure of the Burj Hammoud dump, as some see decision not serious enough, others see that the plan to close dump is satisfying as long it is carried out in schedule, and some others see it is not a good idea. The two armenian parties are expected to announce their final stand by early next week. Armenian deputies' bloc will meet on Monday with the Metn Bloc headed by Michel Murr. According to a plan laid by environment ministry the dump of Borj Hammoud will be closed in 4 months.
Mouhib Itani, the director general of the electricity administration in Lebanon, resigned Jan 16 and said he has fulfilled his duty'' by rehabilitating the war ravaged sector". During the 4 years service, Itani oversaw the rehabilitation of war crippled power plants that now restores 24 hours electricity to most of Lebanon. The resignation of Itani followed a government decision last month prohibiting first rank civil servants to stay more than three years in the same post and should be rotated to comparable post.
Parliamentary finance committee increased yesterday allocations to the ministry of agriculture by 20 billion L.L and 2 billion L.L to the ministry of vocational and technical training.
Public works minister agreed with CDR to review the highway A-2 which links Beirut with north Lebanon across Kesrouan coastal areas dividing it into two parts.
Economy minister held meetings at Beirut chamber of commerce and urged economical and other sectors to lend success to the shopping festival.
National air carrier TMA said it will offer fifty percent rate cut to Lebanese industrial exporters during the shopping festival.
Four managers of the recently reopened Casino du Liban were dismissed Jan 16 following investigations by the administration for unknown reasons.
Israel banned an ICRC truck loaded with foodstuffs to enter a besieged village -Markaba- inside security zone and force it to go back.
Maronite League criticised government delay to appoint Lebanese university deans and says it is deliberate policy to oust a Christian dean and replace by another from different community.
Hizbullah MP Abdallah Kassir says his party did not fire Katyusha and its potentials are in state disposal after Israel pull out. He said also that Hariri has mistaken because he counted on the realization of the peace in M.E.
Ecuador president Abdallah Abu Karam is to visit Lebanon in Feb as part of a M.E tour.
Tourism minister Nicolas Fattouche received Jan 16 head of the Volleyball union who told him Lebanon will host Asian championship in May, and so far 9 Asian countries are willing to participate.
Education minister Jean Obeid received Lebanese union of Judo who informed minister the Lebanese team scored first rank of the Arab Judo championship.
Lebanon basketball championship for first class teams going on. Ihyaa Riyada beat Mizyara 83-82, Antranik beat Al Fidaa 80-69.
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