News from Beirut April 21 1997 ...Search

GLC-Rivarly, Abu Rizk V/S Zughbi

Three days before the GLC board members election Thursday, it is now apparent that the two main contesting candidates to the GLC leadership include Elias Abu Rizk, and the president of the water administrations employees syndicates Ghunaim Zughbi. The poll is going to be between two rival factions and tickets with no neutrals or third party candidates.

The labour ministry stand would be decisive, namely through its decision to accept membership of five new unions, in a short time, something the GLC leadership rejected. The GLC under Elias Abu Rizk cabled the chairman of the World Labour Organisation WLO Michel Hanssen, and said the GLC is currently passing crucial times, which would threaten seriously its independence, and rather its entire existence. The cable claimed that the Lebanese government is seeking all means to control the movement, translating that recently by raiding the south labour synodical union on 13th April, also by organising incorrect elections and using force, at time many members eligible to vote were in custody at the police station. The GLC cable also accused the government of annulling or not certifying provincial elections, spending public money to influence elections, also violating laws. The most recent violation is the imposition of five new unions, without any legal justification, and in a way that contradict with GLC and WLO principles and accords. The GLC said it is under the threat of physical elimination of its main leaders by the government, forcing way in to the GLC H.Q same as in  Sidon to impose a cartoon leadership, and annulling totally all freedoms. The GLC cable urged the WLO to intervene to stop the carnage of the labour leadership in Lebanon, to respect the WLO principles and accords, to dispatch a special senior delegate to watch and observe the 24th April elections.

Municipal Elections

Lebanon council of ministers, at its session tomorrow, the first since the crisis of the draft bill on the municipalities law, would endorse a formula postponing the controversial elections. A ministerial committee report laid down recently recommended holding the elections at the earliest fastest possible time, but left fixing a date to the council of ministers. The session would officially settle the point of postponement. News reports said the postponement would be for at least one year and probably until the coming spring. It also said that the postponement would consequently prompts extension of the term in office of the present municipalities, and also filling the vacant councils which is dated back to 33 years ago.

South Lebanon-Jezzine Tension

An SLA officer named Assad Nammour killed in a blast explosion planted in his own car in front of his house in Bkassine at 11.00 a.m yesterday. An SLA unit rushed to the scene to check vicinity of the house found another bomb and defuse it. Later at 1.30 p.m, while three SLA cars convoy passing at Bkassine-Jezzine main road, a third blast exploded hitting the first convoy car killing an SLA man named Hussein Faqik and injuring the others.

Later the two SLA outposts at Sojod and Ghozlan came under mortar fire. Two Israeli warplanes raided in an apparent retaliation a top hill north of  Jezzine and no immediate report on casualties or damages was available. In Beirut, the Islamic resistance claimed responsibility of these attacks, and said its men carried God death sentence against Nammour, who commands the 20th unit of the SLA tank force. The resistance said the man is a faithful blind loyal to the Zionist enemy since his voluntary subscription in 1986. The statement also claimed four other SLA men including commander of the SLA 20th unit Rimon Abu Mrad were were hit in the blast explosion while coming to check scene of first blast. It claimed too rocketing SLA outpost at Bir Kallab and Sojod. The Islamic resistance said a state of panic prevailed among the SLA men and led to a car crash of an SLA man who rushed to check his SLA colleagues. The Israeli radio said the Israeli air raid was in retaliation, admitting that one SLA man killed and two others wounded.

Lebanese Forces- Overseas Conference

Lebanese Forces-Overseas conference held in Paris in presence of head of  the LF-Overseas political bureau Robert Farah and 12 other members, including Ghassan Touma and Raji Abdou, both indicted of many charges by Lebanon's judiciary. The conference, held in the third anniversary of the arrest of Samir Geagea, ended yesterday in Paris. A one day enclave was held Saturday, in presence of the 13 member political bureau, additional to 80 other member of the central committee, who came from USA, Canada, Brazil, Australia, Sweden, Uk, Holland, Belgium, Switzerland and France.

Some 200 LF members held a general assembly near Paris in presence of 200 more LF sympathizers. Robert Farah, who heads the 13 member political bureau of the LF-Overseas said they discussed the internal discipline, how to regenerate the LF, and reviewed the present political situation in Lebanon. He affirmed faithfulness to the LF jailed commander, who is regarded a s political prisoner, and seeking to liberate him with all political and democratic means.

Farah said they stick to the rebuilding of the state of  institutions, in a one country for all, from within the national entente and real actual conciliation, to ensure balancing, in order to reach secure democratic life and stability. He also said they discussed the Pope's visit, for its importance, not only to Lebanon but to the backing of the region's real peace process, a peace which should be comprehensive, just, and final.

Farah said they were "acknowledged of what has been published in the media over a mediation by president Elias Hrawi with Syrian president Hafez Assad, aimed to release Geagea, but we are not yet confirmed of the report. Those seeking the good are numerous and president Hrawi may be in the lead. If the news on the attempt are true and correct, it will be in favour of the national high interest, since president Hrawi is the first who is entrusted on the constitution". Farah also said the release of Geagea , the political prisoner, would be a prelude to a real balance in the country and lift of unfairness toward large part of the Lebanese citizens". He said a Video tape on rebuilding institutions and excerpts of Geagea statements were viewed during the general conference emphasising the attachment to Lebanon as a country of democracy, justice, and equality for all its citizens.


Ex president Amin Gemayel, continuing his current visit to Brazil, met the foreign minister. Gemayel was quoted saying his visit aimed to meet with the Lebanese community, and explain to Brazil's officials the case of Lebanon, urging them to help Lebanon to regain its sovereignty and to rescue its free democratic system.

He was quoted saying " I do not know until when the authority that is taking hold of the people can continue its military, economical and psychological pressure on the people. While the country is in danger, and Israeli practices is warning of destructive consequences, not only on our brothers in south and west Bekaa, but on whole Lebanon and the Lebanese entity, we see the rulers preoccupied with surface issues and not realising  the result of their policy on the unity and national feelings, as if their aim is to push the people to desperate and to give up their country and  future". Gemayel said the "state development policy seems to be part of the scheme to destruct the country for many reasons, first because 70 per cent of the spending on development is exclusively in Beirut . Even the workshops were exclusive in some quarters while other quarters became garbage dump for the capital and its suburb. Second because this development depends on the loan policy with high interests without considering the capability of the general budget to bear such burdens. ". Gemayel described the development plan as unbalanced, giving priority to some giant but premature projects which is beyond Lebanon's ability to digest, all that on the account of the urgent projects of social or living nature or even the productivity in the country. As a result of this policy the large majority of the Lebanese are living in a very hard crisis ".

Cardinal Sfair-More Remarks

Cardinal Sfair, on Sunday's sermon, in presence of Mrs Samir Geagea and a crowd from Koura, said "the tendency of the public authority to squeeze the civil institutions, and trying to support its loyals to be in the driving seat, is in fact a surmount of its authority, which should be exclusively an observatory one, and which should take decision with a spirit of justice and fairness. He said "when the authority is siding with one against the other, it will loose its respect and become itself the problem instead of being the solution". Cardinal Sfair also said that "Lebanon is of an occupied land, an oppressed people, and a will that is being crippled".

News In Brief

-President Elias Hrawi, speaking to a delegation representing the Lebanese community members detained in Zaire, said "the concerned state administrations are working as an emergency board in order to ensure safe departure of the detained emigrants in Zaire". He also said "any problem for any emigrant is a personal problem for us". New reports today said Zaire rebels leader Capella received two Lebanese representing the detainees. No further information were available as to the outcome of the negotiations but news reports said accepting the idea of meeting the Lebanese would indicate an imminent release or a way out.

-105 Lebanese arrived Sunday to Beirut airport coming from Zaire on board of  Congo airways plane. Reporters said the aeroplane was chartered one hired by the Lebanese government. Other news report said the plane was hired by rich Lebanese emigrants. Most of the arrivals were dependents looking exhausted. They said so many Lebanese shopowners are still in Kinshasa watching the situation before deciding to leave. Emigrants ministry S.G Haitham Jumaa said the Lebanese embassies officials in both Zaire and south Africa reached agreement Saturday aimed to release 46 Lebanese detainee Sunday. Jumaa did  not give details of the deal and said the Lebanese in Zaire are who made the deal. He said only 1,000 Lebanese are still there out of 3,000 living there earlier.

- Christian G.Orthodox Bishop Elias Audi said on Sunday sermon "when the human is crushed the ruler loose justification of rule. It is very shameful to be a citizen and does not know who is the head of my country'".

- Hizbullah political bureau member Sheikh Khodr Nouredine said "liberation of south will not take place by virtue of the international backing, or the world institutions and its resolutions, but by the virtue of the resistance and its operations. He said the resistance is what prevent the Israeli enemy carrying more aggressions.

- More commemorations are held in and out of Lebanon in the first memorial of Qana massacre. In Detroit-USA, the Lebanese community commemoration was significant. A silent crowd marched in the main streets which was closed for 2 hours in mourning for the martyrs.

- Russian Federation deputy foreign minister for M.E Victor Posovalik arrived unexpectedly Saturday to Beirut and met prime minister Rafic Hariri. It was second time visit by the Russian official in four days. No further information were available.

- Emigrants minister Talal Arsalan said the political authority should not intervene anyway in the GLC election, or any other election for any union or society that requires elections and poll. He said the government and the authority should be only an honest fair arbitrar.

- News analysts said President Elias Hrawi, so far, refraining to intervene in the ongoing GLC row, is perhaps realising that Hariri-Berri alliance which was observed in the municipalities issue, would continue including this time the GLC elections. Other analysts said the municipalities issue and now the GLC would have connection with the upcoming presidential elections. Both Hariri and Berri gave almost similar remarks saying extending the president term is not under discussion.

- Agriculture minister Shawki Fakhoury, he would propose November this year as a possible date for the municipal elections "in order to give up my pessimism". Fakhoury said postponing the elections until next spring would mean throwing elections in the unknown because at that time we are nearing the presidential elections. Using it as a pretext, the municipal elections would then be further postponed until the coming new president's term who will need time to think it over. He said November is the only choice which can let us give up pessimism and not to announce death of the elections.

- Zahle Mp Elie Skaff excluded any possibility to hold the municipal elections before next spring. Skaff urged and appealed to the three top officials to get together before the Pope visit "so that he can bless a united Lebanon".

- The director of the Catholic information centre father Antoine Gemayel, announced today the detailed and final schedule of the Pope visit, sametime with the vatican announcement.

- Lebanese Journalists Association under Melhem Karam called for a sit in protest in solidarity with Sidon press reporters and in denouncing the practices they faced in Sidon during the GLC election .

- Aley-Piscine, once a famous amusement and art centre in the summer resort town, is to be renovated and reshaped up. The opening is set on 15th May and the piscine is to regain its past glory with great Arab and Lebanese singers singed to hold performances this summer.

- Dbayeh potable water factory founded in 1896 is to celebrate tomorrow its 100 year Jubilee under the auspices of president Elias Hrawi.

Sports Round Up

- Lebanese Future Football Team which Lebanon Football Federation is preparing to run for the Asia 2000 cup defeated South Korea youths 2-1 at a game held yesterday at Burj Hammoud stadium.

- Shabiba Boushriah won Lebanon volleyball cup for fifth time, beating the Riyadi Ghazir at Mont La Salle.

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