News from Beirut April 19  1997 ...Search


-Lebanon's memorial Thursday of the Qana and Nabatieh martyrs was marked by thousands of candles enlighted at public squares and tens of marches and rallies held in the occasion. At some areas, church bells rang and mosques prayers held. In Nabatieh, Sidon, Salhieh-Sidon church, Koura, Diniyeh, Tripoli, Zghorta, Akkar, Zahle, Baalbeck, and many other regions the nation mourned its martyrs.

Arab league S.G Ismat Abdel Magid said the 18th of April should be a day of mourning for all Arabs in expression of their anger and denunciation against the Israeli aggressions.

Lebanon-Elections, GLC and Municipalities

- Lebanon commemoration of Qana massacre's martyrs and the Adha feast holiday did not overshadow the aggravating GLC leadership election crisis. Government session on Tuesday would tackle the issue of municipal elections, now stalled and definitely postponed but not certainly until when, and the GLC election on 24th April. A legal way out or exit will be formulated at the session, especially the way to extradite draft bill amending the municipal law, which caused a sounding row. There will be emphasis on the "technical reason" that had led to the postponement, and also reassuring the importance of laying down appropriate amendments which would allow holding elections at a later time. If the amendments on the municipal law is attached or linked to bills on administrative decentralization, parliament elections, and frameworks of the municipalities, the municipal elections won't be held before next spring.

-The GLC and government confrontation on the 24th April election of the GLC leadership is mounting up. The government is exerting every possible pressure to control the union and force it to accept yield to government mechanism of elections. The Prime minister's circles said the GLC membership of five additional unions is hundred per cent legal and the GLC has no right to reject the labour ministry decision, consequently the voters list will include the five new members. According to voters list provided by the prime minister and speaker, some 54 delegate representing 27 union will be on the list. Opponents of GLC present leader Elias Abu Rizk will definitely win the poll if such list is maintained . The GLC said its voters list include only 44 delegate representing 22 union. It renewed its rejection to the labour minister decision and also the result of last poll in Sidon. The GLC is confident that its ticket will win the poll too. The GLC statement yesterday said the minister's decision on the five new unions is null and void and not justified neither legally, nor constitutionally, and principally. The GLC said if such practice is going to continue this way all parties, syndicates, and clubs will face same problem. The GLC said it will not recognise other than the delegates representing the 22 unions which are forming the GLC executive committee. News reports said President Elias Hrawi, closely observing the GLC elections developments, may intervene on time to avert split and division of the labour union, after it is becoming clear that the GLC is confronting government on one side, and rival unions on other.


-Byblos Maronite Bishop Beshara Raaii confirmed an earlier report saying Syrian Brig Ghazi Kanaan had visited him recently. However, Bishop Raaii said the visit was for extending well wishes in the Easter and has no other purpose. The observers cannot exclude a political motive, since there was no such precedent of visiting a Christian religious figure as Bishop Raaii by a Syrian official. Analysts said the visit has connection with the Syrian-Christian dialogue that is going on since sometime and is still at  preliminary stage. Others said it has connection with the upcoming visit of  the Pope. The conclusion is that Syria-Christian dialogue is not likely to end with practical tangible results if it takes place only at certain occasion and not aimed to correct the imbalance implementation of the Taif. The news said a dialogue, aiming to make the pope's visit pass on with the least Christian complaint only, would lead to reverse results and cast doubts on the attempted rapprochement between Syria and the Christians.

Brazil- Lebanon-Gemayel

-Ex president Amin Gemayel is currently visiting Brazil since Thursday. He held meeting with the parliament speaker Michel Tamer, who is of Lebanese descent. Gemayel also met the head of the senate and called for the "dispatch of a parliamentary fact finding mission to Lebanon to inquire the present situation, as prelude to an international campaign to support Lebanon's case, and the free democratic system, which is posed now to various dangers and pressures". Head of the Parliamentary bloc of Lebanese descent Mps Antoine Azar, after meeting with Gemayel, said the talks were positive, "Gemayel placed over a subjective image of the situation in Lebanon and proposed steps to treat it in cooperation with all sides". He said his bloc agreed with the head of senate and speaker of parliament to continue consultation on the issue and a Brazilian parliamentary delegation will visit Lebanon shortly. Gemayel said "the historical relation between Brazil and Lebanon is embodied by the 51 Mp of Lebanese origin in the Brazilian parliament, also there is the common concern on democracy, freedom, and respect of human rights. Same as Brazil in Latin America, Lebanon was also advocating these principles". He said Lebanon now is in danger and these principles in particular are posed to vanish in the cedar's land. He said for that reason he came to Brazil to seek help of the Lebanese active and great community which is more than 7 million in order to contribute to the national rescue.


- Deputy speaker Elie Firzli welcomed the State Shawra Council ruling to freeze implementation of prior censorship on the satellite broadcasts of  news and political programmes. The council gave its ruling after the private T.V station LBC appealed to the court. Firzli said such ruling was expected from a judicial authority which only rule with justice. He said the ruling has hit several political objectives including the fact that the Shawra Council is a credible respected and important authority, also assuring that the issue of freedoms, its protection, and the issue of media broadcasts namely dropping down prior censorship, are all an integral part of the constitution and laws. He said it is a victory of the message carried by the LBC, and hopefully other audio-visual media stations and institutions would do the same. Firzli said the LBC message aims to say that Lebanon's media capital is a strategic one and should be maintained in order to ensure linking Lebanon with the external world. Firzli said it is a mistake to think that censorship would ensure a distinguished image of Lebanon abroad, and it is only the freedom and democracy which can resolve the problems suffered by the Lebanese society.


- Batroun MP Butros Harb, after a visit to Cardinal Sfair yesterday, said he will stand against a new phase of naturalization, calling instead for a review of the decree that had been issued in the past, and particularly the "grant of nationality to persons not deserving it". The interior ministry has called recently applicants to proceed to a certain office to apply in person. Harb said he discussed the issue with the cardinal and he is against the decree that had granted nationality to many undeserving people. He said he is not against naturalization of Wadi Khaled, the 7 villages, and residents or owners in Lebanon, but against the ones added to the decree with great numbers, and who has no connection with Lebanon, neither they have the proof they deserve nationality. Harb also said he discussed the new naturalization phase, which is given the motto that some Christians will be naturalized in order to achieve some balance. Harb said such justification is not acceptable and the acceptance of the new phase or annex would mean acceptance of the former phase.

Lebanon-Pope Visit

-MP Butros Harb, after visiting Cardinal Sfair, asked if the Pope visit would contribute to realising Lebanon's sovereignty, said "his pontiff visit is historical, and when he visits a state he is visiting a sovereign one, but makes a reminder if its sovereignty is short. Lebanon is an occupied country and national decision making is confiscated, for that, his pontiff's visit will be a great moral support to all Lebanese". Harb said "from that point, we welcome the visit and all reservations should be dropped down". He added that "there are arrangements carried by the political authority and this is protocol, also there are arrangements by the people, for that, we call the people to share in receiving the Pope and lend the visit a success".

-NLP leader Douri Chamoun, after a visit to Cardinal Sfair, said his stand on the Pope's visit was "in principle against it, but after the visit being confirmed, it is an obligation to do whatever possible to receive him adequately and we shall share in the reception". Chamoun said he does not want to rush things, and later on we shall be watching the visit and its outcome, so that we can make evaluation".

- The Orient Catholic Patriarchs Council at a meeting under Cardinal Sfair at Bkerke discussed the Pope's visit and celebrating the third thousand Jubilee of Christianity.

- News report said Italian navy frigates and air force emergency team will be available in Lebanon's territorial waters on time when the Pope is going to visit Lebanon 10-11th May..

- A committee in charge of preparations prior to his pontiff visit under Mount Lebanon governor Mohammed Suheil Yamout reviewed the measures already taken and the undergoing arrangements. The committee discussed coordination among concerned agencies including security agencies, schools, municipalities, scouts and students unions.

News In Brief

- Syrian People's House speaker Abdel Kadir Kaddoura, arrived to Lebanon Thursday to participate in the commemoration of Qana martyrs, said the fate of the M.E region is peace. He considered that "Netanyahu battle is not with Lebanon or its south, but with the police in Israel, with Yussi Bilin and Shimon Peres, let us leave him to those". Kaddoura, responding to reporters, said Dennis Ross new tour will be same as the earlier ones.

-News analysts said today "the Syrian advise was effective as usual and as expected,  the row on the draft bill has cooled down, president Hrawi shelved the idea of changing or reshuffling the government, and the GLC new row will at the end minimize to a minor issue, because the local and regional situations cannot allow opening doors to the wind of crisis and internal disagreements, something will affect the cohesive internal front".

The analysts said "extending president Hrawi term would be inevitable again if the circumstances are not changed. It is only the war or completion of  the peace process, which would change the ruling team".

- Festivities in the Adha in Lebanon were absent due to the coincidence with the commemoration of Qana martyrs and the economical hard situation. it was an unprecedented Eid in Lebanon with sadness and frustration observed instead. Only prayers and speeches by Moslem clergy reminded the occasion.

- "The political system is one thing, and the unity of the people and the country is another. If there are disagreements on the system it does not mean that the people is not united. The unity of the Lebanese people has been embodied before and after Qana massacre. The Lebanese people is one, yesterday, today and tomorrow. The people in Lebanon are sharing each other, living together a social life and not split or fragmented. The split in Lebanon is among the politicians", Maronite Bishop of Beirut Boulos Matar.

- "We should follow up the situation in our country which is living an economical and political chaos, due to lack of plan, and because the politicians quarrel over splitting the cheese, which is our interests, economy and security. If they disagree they work on shaking Lebanon, and if they reach agreement they are agreed on what they want. We should pressure them until they realise that who is not moving in favour of the country will never have a vote or support. Do not be fanatic loyals to persons but only for the right and justice. We should work altogether in order to have Islamic unity and national unity. We should live together with all our citizens so that the Moslems and Christians get together to defend Lebanon", Sayed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah on Adha.

- Hizbullah S.G Hassan Nasrallah said "who humiliated the enemy was the steadfastness will of our mujahideen and people not the Qana massacre as some people have the illusion". Nasrallah, speaking Friday at Haret Hreik mosque, said the Israeli aggressions after Qana was of larger scale and more fierce than before". He questioned who could imagine the April aggression would end that way, without the prides of the mujahideen and the faith of  believers in Lebanon". Nasrallah criticised the rallies being held now, and said "it is not faithfulness to the martyrs to hold celebrations for them for one day and remain the rest of the year letting down Lebanon as a society of corruption, luxury amusement and ethical degradation, also with letting the media institutions and others to strike at this people's ethics, values and seriousness. This is not a faithfulness to the martyrs of the massacre and to the resistance martyrs".

- In the Qana day, Israeli warplanes flew over south Lebanon, namely over Nabatieh and Iqlim Toffah, staging mock raids and causing sonic boom. The Islamic resistance said its fighters rocketed the SLA outpost at Toumat Niha. The national news agency said the Israeli artillery fired artillery shells at Kabrikha, Ghandourieh, Qantara and Barachit also valleys in vicinity of Tebnine town. News reports said the SLA outposts at Rihan and Sojod came under attack Thursday. The Israeli and SLA artillery shelled in retaliation the hills of Iqlim Toffah.

- According to a survey in Beirut the internet users are 7-10 thousands but expected to rise steadily by 10 per cent monthly. Some 11 internet company are operating in Lebanon. The survey estimated the net revenue of the two T.V stations LBC and Future satellite broadcasts advertisements by $22mn for this year. The survey said shareholders of the LBC include the Daher family 20 per cent, Suleiman Franjieh 10 per cent, Issam Fares 10 per cent,  Iman Issa el Khoury 10 per cent, other 33 per cent, Rimon Arbaji 2 per cent, Michel Pharaon 3 per cent, Nabil Bustani 4 per cent, Salahedine Osseiran 4 per cent, investcom holding 4 per cent. Shareholders of the Future T.V are Hariri family 57 per cent, Ghaleb Shammaa 15 per cent, Rimon Audi 5 per cent, Fadi Shibbani 7 per cent, others 16 per cent. The survey estimated $12mn revenue of satellite broadcasts ads of the LBC, and $13mn local ads, also estimated $10mn revenue for the Future satellite ads, and $4mn revenue of local ads, all in the 1997.

Sports Round Up

-Hikmeh basketball defeated Kahraba-Zouk with 22 point gap in the 13th stage of Lebanon cup group A.

- Shabiba Boushrieh and Riyadi Ghazir will play 5th game today, which is decisive for the finals of Lebanon's volleyball cup for group A.

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