President Elias Hrawi was quoted yesterday saying, "Baabda palace is open for all and welcomes all." He was also quoted saying, "Mr. Berri thinks I will ask shortening the speaker's term in office through the constitutional amendments I am intending to propose, this is not in my mind." "Mr. Berri when he was a minister said he is adamant about his four years term, and I am not going to demand that either", President Hrawi was quoted saying.
He said the constitutional amendments are finished, particularly in what relates to the civil status affairs, and in total its not more than five or six articles. He said, "though I know the Council of Ministers will not endorse the amendments, I am insisting to submit it." The visitors said President Hrawi is dismayed of the frequent travels of the Prime Minister, and he was quoted saying that "meeting him is becoming rare as he is traveling always and hopefully these trips are for the good of Lebanon." He denied the allegations that he discussed or consulted the Syrian leadership over a governmental change, saying he had only complained of some inefficient ministers, and some others who are dictated by the Prime Minister.
Speaker Nabih Berri is due to leave today to Doha-Qatar in a three day visit. He said he will discuss the bilateral relations, namely between Lebanon's Parliament and Qatar's Shawra Council and the Arab common market on which the two sides will coordinate their stands, before the Arab Parliamentarians Conference in Cairo. Berri's circles denied the statements made by the Minister of Interior that he will visit Baabda after his return from Qatar.
The circles said Mr. Murr is expressing his own wishes, and the Speaker is not going to visit Baabda, before his conflict with the President is resolved. It added that when the mentality is changed, Mr. Berri will need no mediation from a minister or else or guide to visit Baabda. "If the practice is not changed, Berri will visit no one," the circles said. It added that "some files, including one relates to the Ministry of Immigration's appointments, and others, are still hanged on in Baabda and were not released yet." The same circles added that Mr. Berri "wants the President to be an arbiter, not siding with the Prime Minister when he disagrees with the Speaker, and he should be a father for all."
Prime Minister Rafic Hariri held talks in Ottawa with head of the senate, observed the signing of an agreement to encourage investments, and received an honorary Ph.D. from Ottawa University in gratitude for his educational, development and reconstruction role. A declaration of will to negotiate human and consular cooperation was also signed between the two sides. Mr. Hariri is reported to have called President Hrawi from Ottawa. Hariri said disarming the resistance against Israel before liberation will facilitate the continuation of occupation.
Foreign Minister Fares Boueiz is due to leave to Malta today to attend the Europe-Mediterranean conference scheduled to begin Tuesday. The conference is going to follow up on the resolutions of the Barcelona conference held in 1995. Boueiz will go later to Tunisia in an official visit for three days.
News analysts in Beirut said the Middle East crisis will be looming over Malta's conference. Lebanon and Syria will call for enhancing the mobility against Israel. The two countries will be sitting at the table with Israel, for the second time since Barcelona conference in 1995. Foreign Minister Boueiz said Lebanon will propose freezing normalization of relations with Israel until Israel respects the foundations of the peace process as decided in Madrid. He said Lebanon will not join a Middle Eastern security treaty proposed by France for the same reasons.
At a press conference held yesterday in the first anniversary of last year April's aggression Hizbullah S.G Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah said he is not satisfied with the Lebanese government performance toward the Israeli repeated violations of the April's understanding. Nasrallah said the government should not be shy to lodge complaints as if there is no south for the government, or no government for the south. He called the cease-fire monitoring committee state members to bear their responsibility and meet their commitments, otherwise, " we shall find ourselves obliged of a deterring measure." He added the Katyusha rocketing is possible anytime but within a convenient timing.
Sayyed Nasrallah denied having any branches of Hizbullah neither in Kuwait, nor Bahrain, or any other Gulf country or anywhere else. He affirmed that Hizbullah is not training other than Lebanese and Palestinians because they are fighting one battle. He pointed out that there are no other nationalities among Hizbullah. He also denied connection between Lebanese convicts in Germany with Hizbullah. German mediation on swapping prisoners with Israel is now froze because there is no substance for it. Swap with SLA is only through the ICRC not Germans.
He preferred not to speak on local issues, but he said as a citizen "the postponement of the municipal elections is tantamount to cancellation, and that is a national historic political mistake committed by the whole system with all institutions, government, and parliament."
He said the postponement has "helped more shaking down the country, and the depression became national not only a Christian one." He added that "what has been said by father Selim Ebbou was deeper and more dangerous than Sheikh Saeed Shaaban's speech."
Israeli forces is reportedly on alert in the first anniversary of April's aggression, the same with the SLA, both inside the security zone and along the borderline. The Israeli and SLA artillery shelled many areas in the middle and eastern sectors, also its warplanes carried mock raids.
Moslem senior clergy in their Friday speeches centered on the municipal elections and pilgrimage. Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah said the German judiciary decision was motivated by politics not law, namely accepting testimonies of the sides that is hostile to Iran. He called the European Union states to review the decision to summon ambassadors from Tehran. He said the Moslems do not agree to harm their religious high rank religious leaders in the framework of political stagnation.
Preparations for Qana massacre commemoration is a nation wide campaign. Plans to lay a cornerstone for Qana martyr's statue and museum are finalized, and arrangement for a central rally at Tyre's Roman stadium on Friday. Lebanese audio-visual stations and newspapers began to reproduce events of the massacre.
Foreign Minister Fares Boueiz, commenting on the "Grapes of Wrath's" operation last year said the Israeli aggression this year is political. He pointed out, "It is aimed this time against the peace process and against all what had been agreed before."
- Liberian foreign minister held talks in Beirut with President Hrawi, Foreign Minister Fares Boueiz, and Speaker Nabih Berri. He said his country is willing to establish close relations with Lebanon. He noted the important role of the Lebanese community in Liberia now totaling around 1,700. Foreign Minister Boueiz said the present situation in Liberia does not allow paying compensations for the Lebanese who used to be there, until a time the Liberian state can extend all its potentials and energy.
- Head of the Media National Council Sami Shaar said "the door is not closed and won't be closed for new license applicants of the audio-visual stations." He noted that the council dealt with license applications for T.V stations from a legal viewpoint.
- Cardinal Sfair discussed with visitors the scheduled visit of the Pope.
- MP Bahiya Hariri said the public mood is in favour of the municipal elections and this is natural. However, she said there are negative points that need to be resolved before.
- NLP party renewed it call to its supporters to get ready for the elections and complete all relevant procedures to avoid any surprising event. The party questioned who should be responsible of the blow up of the elections, after the government undermined free expression means, banned demonstrations, controlled the audio-visual media stations, and after all by tending to make appointments instead of free election.
- Tadamoun party leader Emile Rahmeh, in the 12th anniversary of the party, said the hands which blew the municipal elections are the same which forced head of the Constitutional Council to resign. Rahmeh argued if the national entente led to the postponement of the elections, recalling that this entente was not maintained in 1992 and 1996 in the displaced issue, in the formation of the consecutive cabinets, also was not maintained in the naturalization, media, appointments etc. He said calling the opposition to participate in political life was not real, as when the opposition took the decision to do so, the officials missed the chance and they are now sufficient of their paper legitimacy.
- French Ambassador in Lebanon received a Lebanese decoration at his farewell reception. He said as of next January the French ambassador's residence will return to the pine palace because France's diplomatic representation should be in the heart of Beirut, and in the same month the consular and the economic sections will be transferred. He added that the new premises will be built inside the faculty of literature campus by the end of the year and the cultural center will return to its former place. He visited Bkerke and Beirut Maronite's Bishop in farewell visits.
- Parliament committee in charge of unifying and modernizing laws in Lebanon said the situation in various prisons in Lebanon cannot be improved by reducing jailing periods but by handing over prisons to the Justice Ministry.
- Lebanese officials intensified their contacts aiming to help Lebanese in Zaire's embattled areas to evacuate. Speaker Nabih Berri called the ambassador in South Africa and officials in Belgium and the British Embassy in Rwanda. Foreign Minister Fares Boueiz said the Lebanese, namely in Lumumbashi, were being blackmailed and asked to pay money for their evacuation. He said under the present chaotic situation it is difficult to follow up and make assessment, recalling that very few countries are in fact capable of helping in Lumumbashi. Boueiz said the French forces and influence is now in Kinshasa, and perhaps we should make more calls with the USA and Belgium to help the Lebanese there. Director of the Ministry of immigration Haitham Jumaa said news on siege of Lebanese in Mbojimay were incorrect, and the only problem there is the financial blackmail by the rebels. He said the Americans are most influential in the areas under rebels control. He urged the Lebanese who have no interests or work in Zaire to evacuate for their safety.
- Italian Co Op Federation's delegation toured on displaced areas in Chuf and held talks with the displaced ministry officials to exchange views on development programmes they plan to carry on there. The Italian Co OPs Federation include 1,063 Co Op with 4 million members.
- The Saudi Arabian Embassy in Lebanon denied that it has anything to do with pilgrimage procedural matters. It said the number of pilgrims was fixed at 1,000 for each 1 million population, the embassy is receiving passports not applications,and visas are delivered exclusively to the Lebanese authority. The embassy said distributing visas on various sects and regions is up to the Lebanese authority.
- After a visit to Cardinal Sfair, Lebanon's Labor Union Board under Elias Abu Rizk announced that the union's elections will take place on time and decision is up to the union. The union is accusing the government of intervening in its internal affairs in order to bring loyalists.
- Lebanon's public school teachers decided to stage one day strike on Tuesday in solidarity with the LU teachers.
- Lebanese football national team's match with Singapore is a nation wide concern namely with all clubs urging fans to attend and support their national flag. The match will be held Sunday at Burj Hammoud stadium at 4:30 p.m. Saudi referees arrived in Beirut yesterday. Nijmeh and Ansar, same as all other clubs, published public announcements to their supporters to attend the match. Singapore consul in Lebanon hosted his country national team at a launch. Lebanon's football Federation was among the guests.
- Hikmeh football team played a scoreless match with Safa at Safa Stadium in Beirut, rising hope of reaching semi finals in the Adha's 10th tournament.
The Luxurious Hotel in the heart of Kaslik, Jounieh, Lebanon
[ Lebanon.com Weekly Business Reports ]
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