News from Beirut March 18  1997  .......Search

Lebanon-Identity Card Available

Yesterday, Lebanon's new coded identity card, first in 20 years, was handed at a special reception at a workshop in Badaro. The design of the new card was reached after studying seventeen international identity cards. This innovation will gradually replace the old identity card and the civil status document Ikhraj Al Kaid. The new card does not mention the religion or sect of the holder in compliance with the Taif Accord, and it will be the only recognized official document after 16 month. Applications should be submitted to the mayors' offices in various regions. Children below age 3 will be exempted of attaching photos and putting finger-prints, and boys below 15 will not be required to provide finger-prints. Minister of Interior, Michel Murr, said that an application form should be filled at the mayor's office who will then send it to the civil status directory.

The workshop capacity is 10,000 card a day and 250,000 monthly. Mr. Murr pointed out that the card will be delivered within one week. President Hrawi, speaking on the occasion, said the issuing of new cards is another step in the process of rebuilding our infrastructure which would not only focus on roads, water, and sewerage, but it will also involves gaining our identity and averting forgery. He added that the state should not be blamed for the errors and mistakes in the voters lists, contending that the civil status administration cannot work perfectly if there are no mayors to issue birth, marriage and death certificates. He expressed gratitude to those involved in the process for their efforts, and called upon the Lebanese to carry on the obligations of having the new card as well as to obtain the identification cards for the municipal election. He said his identity card was issued before 1973 and was used twice to vote, noting that the old identity card is not acceptable now for the coming municipal election.

Mayoral and Municipal Election

Lebanon's mayoral and municipal election set to be held on June 1st and 8th of this year is preoccupying all Lebanon though it is still uncertain whether it will be held as scheduled. Political manouvering and the contradictory answers given cast some doubts over this issue. Some officials keep saying, "Most probably it will be held, or perhaps it would be postponed. However we have enough time ahead." Only 10 per cent have applied for the election card, available since the last two weeks. Lebanon's parliament postponed debating amendment of the municipal law, demanding the government to refer to it together with two other bills on decentralization and a modified law on parliamentary election.

Prime Minister Rafic Hariri, at a meeting of his parliamentary bloc called the deputy members to get ready to the municipal election, and move quickly to ensure massive public participation. Mr. Hariri called for the establishment of special offices to ensure the election cards. He repeated that the election will definately take place on time in order to revitalize the public services and even the economical cycle. Parliament sources casted doubts on the prospects of holding elections on time, in view of the linkage between municipal law and other proposed laws on decentralization and nationality. The linkage between different bills reflected hesitation among the public and is consequently lowering the number of those applying for the election card, keeping in mind that the deadline ends in 13 days. Yesterday, Minister of Interior Michel Murr announced that the end of March is the deadline for obtaining election cards. He criticized ministers who persist on extending the time limit, saying if over a million voters would obtain the card by the deadline there will be no extension.

At a meeting held yesterday, the Prime Minister's parliamentary bloc called for neutrality in the coming election and urged the public administration to deal equally with all the citizens in order to ensure the neutrality of the state authority.

In its meeting yesterday, the National Parlament concluded, "Neutral authority, honest and free election without any errors and forgery which characterized the last Parlaimentary election should take place." The meeting, which included former Prime Ministers Omar Karami and Selim Hoss, former Speaker Hussein Husseini, and deputies Butros Harb, Nassib Lahoud and Mohamed Baydoun, called upon the citizens to participate in the election in order to regenerate the right democratic practice.

The Lebanese Army Command/Guidance Department ordered all the military in all ranks not to interfere in the coming municipal election. It declared that similar to the policy of last year's parliamentary election, all military personels should not be involved in anything related to this election, including attending religious or family meetings held for that purpose.

North Deputy Butros Harb said the coming municipal election would be the best because the capability of the authority to manipulate would be harder. He called for the formation of coalitions and reaching concensus wherever possible in the Batroun region. He said democracy is incomplete if the citizens do not participating in the election of a mayor, municipal head or the Qadaa's council etc.

NLP Party leader Douri Chamoun said he has agreed with Gen. Michel Aoun and ex President Amin Gemayel, at a meeting in Paris held recently, to form coalition lists in the coming municipal election in all villages and towns. He contended the move is to avert splits among families. He further alleges that cooperation with Minister Walid Junblat is possible, if need to, because the municipal election is different from the parliamentary one. He noticed that the government's intention on the election is not good because they are still holding the election law until last minute.

Lebanon-Death Sentences-Judiciary

Mohammed Kour, a 32 years old Lebanese, who in 1992 killed a notable man at the village of Nahle in north Lebanon for refusing to lend him L.L 6 million in addition to an earlier L.L 3 million, was executed (by hanging) on 17th March dawn at Roumieh prison courtyard. Kour, when he was 17 years old in 1983, had killed the son of his cousin, and later repeatedly attempted to kill his uncle, father in law and another person. The execution is the 8th death sentence executed in Lebanon. Kour, according to eyewitnesses wrapped the rope and pushed away the chair beneath by himself, asking the executors to let the mission for him. He refused to wear the mask and asked not to be handed to his family but to be thrown into the sea water.

Some Muslim clerics in an appeal to President Hrawi, signed by 60 clerics from south, north Bekaa and Iqlim Kharoub in Chuf, asked the President to grant a special pardon or easing the death sentence against three persons who assassinated Sheikh Nizar Halabi in Beirut. They said the murder had occurred in a strained atmosphere and executing the sentence now would regenerate the strain.

National and Islamic groups and parties are to hold today a rally to express solidarity with Japanese Red Army Kozo Okamoto, now jailed at Roumieh prison with 4 other comrades. The rally will be held at Hizbullah Information Center at Haret Hreik. A PFLP official said Okamoto had lost memory under the Israeli torture following Lod operation . A Lawyer in Beirut raised the legal point of illegibility and possible request to release him.

Cypriot Justice Minister is due to arrive in Beirut today for a three days official visit to sign a judicial accord with Lebanon.


Italian Prime Minister arrived this morning to Beirut and was received by Prime Minister Rafic Hariri. He was accompanied by a delegation including Italian businessmen who will discuss available investment in Lebanon. The political talks will center on the UN resolution 425, the peace process and European role to regenerate the peace talks. The economic discussions will focus on Europe-Mediterranean partnership, economic bilateral relation with Lebanon, and reevaluation of the Lebanese-Italian economic protocol studying funding for the coming two years, which would amount to millions of dollars. Italy is Lebanon's first trade partner with it's exports totaling over $900 million and imports from Lebanon around $40 million only.


After a meeting with the Lebanese Foreign Minister, Fares Boueiz, the Iranian Ambassador announced that "Lebanon's Foreign Minister's visit to Tehran would take place in a month or two and Iran's deputy foreign minister is to arrive to Beirut on Tuesday," Political analysts in Beirut said Lebanon, thougth supporting the resistance against Israel as an only option in view of the stumbling peace process and the Israeli mounting extremism and settlement policy, is keen to avert the reflections of the policy of axis. The Islamic Conference Organization ICO and the Jerusalem Committee, under the auspices of King Hassan of Morocco, are expected to take stands against the Israeli settlement policy. Tehran is trying to establish an axis or a rejection front in the region aiming to stand against the Israeli judization of Jerusalem. Lebanon, which observe the crackdowns in the peace process, is trying to limit its impacts on the south and the internal situation.


Amal movement announced yesterday that its fighters attacked the SLA outpost at Tallet el Herdown and reporting direct hits that resulted in the destruction of an SLA vehicle. Israeli and SLA artillery shelled for two hours the outskirts of Mansouri at the coastal road south of Tyre. Israeli gunboats sailed off the coast of Tyre and banned fishermen from sailing deep from the sea shore. Lebanese politicians denounced the siege of the Houla village.

Lebanon-Pope Visit

Papal delegation now visiting Beirut to arrange for the planned visit by Pope John Paul II to Lebanon in May, was received yesterday by Cardinal Sfair at Bkerke. The Papal delegation met also with President Elias Hrawi. Forty days before the anticipated visit of his pontiff to Lebanon the Vatican mission is arranging for the visit with Lebanon civic and religious leaders.


Speaker Nabih Berri is to leave to France on Saturday in a three day official visit where he will meet President Jacques Chirac and France's National Assembly counterpart.

Lebanon's Council of Ministers is scheduled to convene tomorrow at a weekly ordinary session at the government house in Sanayeh under the auspices of Prime Minister Rafic Hariri. The council will discuss an agenda of forty items, namely authorizing the government to conclude agreement with Syria on encouraging investments and double taxation.

Yesterday, in a visit to the Ministry of Administrative Reform, Prime Minister Rafic Hariri said his government will give enough concern to the administrative training academy. He noted that the administrative training is not less important than official and vocational training. Minister of Administrative Reform Beshara Merhej said his ministry is capable of responding to the need of the citizens, through the grants and aids it received, including $20 million from the Arab Fund, $20 million from the Lebanese state, $48 million from the European Union, and $20 million from the World Bank.

News In Brief

- Druze Acting Sheikh Akl Sheikh Bahjat Ghaith visited Damascus yesterday upon an invitation from Syrian Mufti Sheikh Ahmad Kaftaro. He also visited the Syrian Vice President Zuheir Masharka, Defense Minister Mustafa Tlass, and other Syrian officials.

- Ten members of Parliament, in a question to the government, questioned why the Minister of  Interior instructed taking measures aiming at enforcing court and prosecution rulings on evicting the displaced. They also wondered why the government decision, taken on December 4, 1996 was given to concerned ministries on Feb 11 1997. Denounciation of the decision was issued by many groups and deputies. Minister of the Displaced Walid Junblat held a meeting with the displaced fund yesterday urging the government to transfer L.L 64 billion to the ministry to carry on its mission of repatriation.

- Syrian parliament, in a March 14th commemoration, at a special session held in solidarity with south and west Bekaa, hailed the Lebanese resistance and Lebanese people steadfastness.

- Lebanese Foreign Minister Fares Boueiz said the crisis with Egypt is not on potato import but on a whole set of economic issues. Speaker Nabih Berri called the parliamentary committee on agriculture to meet to discuss the issue of potato imports.

- The F.T.M.L cellular telephone company denied that mother company agreed to the tapping of cellular phone calls in Lebanon.

- Caldian Catholic Patriarch Rufail-1 Bidawid, after a visit yesterday to President Hrawi and Foreign Minister Boueiz, said the Caldian synod will be held first May at Saydet el Bir monastery in Lebanon. He added that seventeen Caldian Bishops will participate in the Synod which will be held for the first time in Lebanon. He noted that most of the Caldians live in Iraq, where the Iraqi people are dying of hunger. He mentioned that Caldians in Iraq are 90 per cent of the 900 thousand Iraqi Christian Catholics, in addition to 200 thousand Greek Orthodox.

- Mrs. Rabab Sadre Sharafedine, the sister of Imam Mussa Sadre, is now visiting Senegal in Africa. She met President Abdou Diouf and senior officials as well as the Lebanese community in Senegal.

- Speculations and predictions over the impeachments presented to the Constitutional Council, which would annul some of the present 128 parliamentary seats, is a main highlight now. Some circulated news said at least four deputies would loose their seats, forcing provisional parliamentary election.

- Yesterday, Sausane Harfouche, a Lebanese descent born in 1971, has been appointed as the Mexican federal deputy tourism minister.

- The PSP party continues to commemorate its founder Kamal Junblat in the 20th year assassination with rallies at Chuf and other regions, in addition to Montreal in Canada.

- Minister of Administrative Reform Beshara Merhej, in a proposed law to improve Lebanese prison situation, suggested that a life sentence to be set at 28 years jail, and the calendar year set for 11months for counting the prisoners' term in prison.


-Arab sports ministers, checking the Beirut sport city constructions, said the Arab sport tournament was an Arab decision upon the request of Lebanon. They affirmed that the tournament will take place on time in Beirut and praised the efforts exerted by Lebanon to rebuild the sport city. They also affirmed that all Arab national teams will participate in the games. The Lebanese Minister of Education Jean Obeid said the Arab countries will not exempt themselves of the commitments they made toward Lebanon. He added Lebanon is facing considerable difficulties in organizing the tournament but the good will, determination, backing and contribution will make Lebanon's pledge to host the tournament a reality.

-Yesterday, Prime Minister Hariri received Al Ansar delegation headed by Selim Diyab and the club administration. They handed Hariri the football cup they scored recently. Hariri congratulated Al Ansar for their 9th victory and said Lebanon is proud of their efforts and achievements. Mr Hariri added that the Arab tournament will be held on time and construction work at the Beirut sport city is going on unabated. He noted that in two or three month time the vicinity of the sport city will be turned into a better and more beautiful site. He contended that despite the financial difficulties the sport city will be ready to host the tournament, afterward, Lebanon shall head to the Asian tournament 2000. He further acknowledged that the sport auto race Formula One is to be held in Lebanon, and that recently he received a delegation from the UAE who are planning to hold boat racing in Lebanon. Selim Diyab thanked Mr. Hariri who promised to develop and rehabilitate the Malab al Baladi in Beirut, saying the Prime Minister has met his pledge and promise and the stadium will be ready by June meeting international standards.

- Lebanon's international tennis team is getting ready to play with Thailand between 4-6 April in Beirut as it hosts the Asian-Oceanian semi finals.

-Roger Feghali and assisstant Ziad Chehab won the sport Auto race in Lebanon at Iqlim Kharoub and Chuf in their Renault Clio. 21 car racing.

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