Cabinet last night approved the draft legislation on mayoral and municipal elections to be discussed by parliament soon. The amendments to the draft law were announced by Information minister Bassem Al-Sabaa after the four-hour meeting at the government palace. Cabinet restricted the number of municipal seats which are to be filled by appointment to avoid tipping the sectarian balance. All municipal committees in the occupied strip will be appointed, while only one third of municipal councils will be limited to certain resort areas. Cabinet also set 24 as the maximum number of municipal council members, reducing the proposed number of 30 for the capital. In another amendment, Mukhtars will now be elected directly by the people while mayors and vice-mayors will be indirectly elected. Ministers also endorsed a series of administrative appointments.
At the government palace today, prime minister Rafik Al-Hariri held official meetings with a number of Lebanese deputies and diplomatic figures. The premier met the Egyptian ambassador to Lebanon Adel Al-Khodari. Discussions centered on bilateral ties between the two countries. He also received a number of Lebanese deputies and discussed with them development issues related to the areas they represent. Hariri also received the ambassadors of Switzerland, Jordan, and the UAE who paid him protocol visits.
At the presidential palace in Baabda, President Elias Al-Hrawi today received the Finnish Defense minister Anneli Taina. Discussions were held in the presence of Defense Minister Mohsen Dalloul. After the meeting, the Finnish minister told reporters at the palace her visit is mainly aimed at acquiring a better knowledge of the political situation of Lebanon and the region. Taina described the situation in the region as very complicated.
She hoped however progress will be achieved in peace talks in the near future. The Finish Defense Minister will visit South Lebanon, specifically the UNIFIL headquarters, to inspect the work of the Finnish unit serving under the UN peacekeeping force in the South. She also revealed her government is preparing for an environmental project to be carried out in Lebanon.
At the foreign ministry this morning, Foreign Minister Faris Boueiz held discussions with the German ambassador to Lebanon, Peter Wittig. Top on the agenda of talks was Germanys request of Lebanons support to nominate Bonn as the headquarters of the secretary general of the international anti-desertification conference. Wittig handed Boueiz the letter containing the request. Talks also revolved on the recent return of the German national carrier Lufthansa to Beirut International Airport. The German ambassador also revealed his country granted Lebanon 10 million Dutch Marks for technical development projects.
A day after cabinets session, new controls on food imports took effect as a result of the cabinets approval of a list of items subject to the new regulations. Detailed lists of protected items were approved with the government starting protection conditions as of tomorrow. Agriculture minister Shawki Fakhouri will provide further details on the new regulations tomorrow.
In front of the International Committee of the Red Cross headquarters in Beirut, mothers and families converged this morning some carrying the pictures of their sons and daughters who remain incarcerated in Israeli jails in defiance of international human rights standards. Last month, Israel decided to stop family visits and prohibit the ICRC from carrying out its regular inspection of the Khiam detention center. This has had a negative effect on the physiological and medical conditions of the detainees. The more than 150 prisoners are now unable to see their parents anymore nor are they allowed to exchange letters with them. The ICRC, meanwhile, is holding the necessary contacts to enable its representatives to visit the detainees.
The National Center for Marine Sciences is located on the Batroon coast. This is a major facility for the center which aims at conducting research on sea water, its chemical nature and physical processes to safeguard marine life and decrease the overflow of pollution over a large area of the Lebanese coast. George Rowayheb, Director of the Division of Environmental Sciences, says the center has 13 stations. His job is to take samples and analyze them to see what is in the water.
The job of researchers at the center is to recommend sea water tests to the ministries of health, environment and agriculture and prepare statistics on the migration of fish due to pollution. Najad Kabbara, Researcher in Hydro-dynamics, says his department is interested in the areas between Ras Beirut and Tabarja because in that area, chemical industry exists and the water is very polluted.
The center operates through different departments which carry out further studies on the system of currents in the Lebanese waters in addition to chemical and physical analysis of water samples to study the extent of the presence of fish and marine plants in these waters. The Oceanography Department has recently installed a meteorological station which researches record many parameters that can help them in sea monitoring. Nada Matar from the Sea Monitoring Department does chemical analysis just to see if the nutrient content is regular or if there is an overflow in pollution.
On its future agenda, the National Center for Marine Sciences will work on the construction of a marine station in the Batroon area specialized in acquaculture. The Center will also coordinate with the various ministries to foster cooperation on the research and scientific levels.
The Annadi Arriyadi basketball team excelled over its rival the Homentmen in a game that took place yesterday on the Abnaa Nipton field in Ashrafiyyeh. The results were 73- 62 in favor of Arriyadi.
The Luxurious Hotel in the heart of Kaslik, Jounieh, Lebanon
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