News from Beirut April 22 1997 ...Search

Lebanon-Municipalities and Appointments

- Lebanon council of ministers is expected to discuss today a ministerial committee report on the municipal elections. President Elias Hrawi and prime minister Rafic Hariri held their second meting in 48 hours yesterday at Baabda palace in presence of state minister for finance Fouad Seniora. News reports said they sorted out their varied views on the elections and the administrative appointments. The news named some of the nominees for some senior posts in the public administration. Muhib Itani is to head the administration running Beirut seaport, replacing Antoine Rayess, also changing the entire port administration committee. Joseph el Hawa is to head the electricity administration EDL, and Antoine Chamoun to head the new national housing institution. Premier Hariri declared he is in total agreement with the president on the municipal elections, and that the government will fix new date today. Hariri said the GLC election is a labour affair which his government has nothing to do with it. News reports said fixing a new date for the municipal elections is dependent and relevant with the extension of the term in office of the present councils, if the extension is until end of 1997 the elections would be held in Nov, and if it is until 30th April this year the elections would be held end of March.

- The GLC poll is on hot boiler and reports today said security problems or troubles is awared to take place on the 24th April election day. The interior ministry is going to be responsible for security, that means the internal security forces, which will be stationed in the surroundings of the GLC head office. 10 delegates of the five newly certified unions, which the GLC leadership see it null and void, would be a focal point that will decide the fate of the poll.

Lebanon-Pope Visit, The Official Schedule

The Catholic Information Centre director father Antoine Gemayel announced in Beirut April 21 the official schedule of his pontiff's visit to Lebanon, simultaneously with the announcement in the Vatican. The schedule includes:

10th May

-Arrival at 12.15 p.m.

-13.00 reception at Baabda palace

-13.30 Meeting with president Hrawi

-13.50 meeting with speaker at Baabda palace

-14.05 meeting with prime minister at Baabda palace

-14.20 meeting with heads of the Moslem communities at Baabda

-14.50 moving to Bkerke on board of helicopter

-15.05 arrival to Bkerke and from there to the Vatican mission in Harissa

-19.00 prayers meeting with the youths of Lebanon, signing the synod statement at Harissa basilik- Address by his pontiff

11th May

- 9.30 prayers for Lebanon at a courtyard close to the martyrs square near the naval base. Sermon by his pontiff.

- 12.30 moving on board of helicopter from the naval base to Bkerke  

- 12.45 arrival to the Patriarchate at Bkerke

- 13.30 meeting with members of the Catholic Council of patriarchs and bishops at Bkerke

- 17.00 meeting at the Vatican mission in Harissa

- 18.40 moving from Bkerke to Beirut airport on board of helicopter

- 19.00 arrival to Beirut airport address of his pontiff

- 19.30 departure to Rome

- Father Gemayel responded to reporters questions saying the special car "Papa Mobily" will be used all along the road from the airport to Baabda palace, and from Harissa to Jounieh until Beirut. He said his pontiff will stop technically at the airport, and no official reception will be held. His pontiff will arrive on board of a private jet accompanied by a Vatican delegation including cardinals, bishops, and clerics, also around 50 journalist from allover the world. He also said Bishop Habib Basha will deliver cards to the youths, Bishop Boulos Mattar will deliver cards to the celebration in downtown Beirut, where there will be 70 thousand cards and some 150,000 can attend standing and without cards.

- The presidency information department called journalists and audio visual stations to name their delegates assigned to cover the visit.

- In Kesrouan, civic and religious figures discussed preparations aimed to lend success to the visit, particularly the journey from Fouad Chehab bridge to Nahr el Kalb which will take 25 minutes, where he will pass in the middle of crowded students, scouts, citizens and others in his panoramic mobile car.

Lebanon-Cardinal Sfair-Palestinians

Russian Federation ambassador in Lebanon informed cardinal Sfair that Russia's patriarch Alexi 11 is due to visit Jerusalem, Palestine, and Israel on 12th June, in the 150th foundation anniversary of the Orthodox mission in the holy lands. He said the mission had been founded during the era of  Russian Caesars and aimed to consolidate relations with the orient churches including the Maronite. He said he asked Patriarch Alexi to visit Syria and Lebanon during his coming tour but he apologized for not being able to do so at present, promising to visit Damascus and Beirut on November. He described the Pope visit as very important with much positive outcomes.

Cardinal Sfair received a Palestinian delegation including members of the PFLP and DFLP. Abu Fadi Raji, speaking for the delegation, said they briefed Cardinal Sfair on the Palestinian people sufferings, extended their congratulations in the occasion of Easter, and discussed the issue of  Jerusalem. He also said they have briefed the cardinal on the living conditions in the camps and the health, educational, and economical problems, due to the decline of UNRWA services, and the refrain of the Lebanese government to extend help to patients inside the camps.

Lebanon-Monitoring Committee

- Representative of France in the five nation ceasefire monitoring committee Jean Michel Goussault, accompanied by members of the French team and first secretary of the French embassy, held talks in Beirut yesterday with president Hrawi, prime minister Hariri and foreign ministry S.G Zafer el Hassan. Goussault said he reviewed the function of the committee under the chairmanship of France which started first Dec and going to expire end of  April. He said the committee is contributing positively as witnessed by the concerned parties namely the Lebanese authority. He affirmed that the committee is not a solution to south Lebanon's problem, noted that the solution is being through the implementation of the 425 resolution, or a peace accord between Lebanon and Syria on one hand and Israel on on other hand. Goussault said for the time being, and as awaiting a peace accord and Israeli withdrawal, the consequences of the conflict should be limited namely on civilians. He said tension cannot be averted in the presence of  the Israelis and as long that presence exists the tension will continue. He said the Americans who will head the committee next has the will to carry  on their responsibility with as much possible neutrality.

- News analysts today said the committee has succeeded in a year time to force the parties not to escalate the tension. Commemorating the Qana martyrs has coincided with the termination of France chairmanship of the monitoring committee and the take over of a US team instead for the coming six months. French ambassador, who paid farewell visits and leaving tomorrow expected no major change in the committee's work under the Americans. He strongly advised Lebanon to maintain and preserve the committee despite its limited influence. France membership was its only political penetration achieved during last year. The importance of the committee is that it represented a psychological barrier behind which all the parties justify their commitment to April understanding, recalled that none of the parties in south can bear the consequences of surmounting this understanding, also it is representing a certain dynamism since all parties complaint to it and try to adhere to the lines drawn by the understanding.


- Three years passed since Lebanon severed diplomatic relations with Baghdad following the accusation against three Iraqi diplomats for murdering Iraqi dissident Taleb Suheil Tamimi in Lebanon. Resumption of relations with Iraq is a crucial issue for Lebanon, despite the persistence of Lebanese economical sectors calling for limiting the consequences of the severed relations hoping it won't go far more than diplomatic relations cut. The question in Lebanon is how to resume relations without troubling relations with the USA, Syria and Kuwait. The issue has been raised lately after Lebanon released three diplomats two months ago saying they enjoy diplomatic immunity. Iraq, before invasion of Kuwait, was importing 20 per cent of Lebanon's exports, and the Iraqi imports via Beirut seaport was exceeding 50 per cent out of the total. Raising the question now is the occasion of a new visit to Iraq by the head of the Industrialists Association Jacques Sarraf. Reports in Beirut said the visit has no political or diplomatic significance, but it is regarded as merely economical, since Lebanon's economy is free, and any Lebanese exports to Iraq is not restricted by other than the UN S.C embargo committee which applies "food for oil"formula. In a final conclusion, the Lebanese Iraqi relations won't be resumed before Iraq meets its Arabic and international commitments. The Industrialists Association's delegation headed by Jacques Sarraf arrived to Baghdad april 21 for the first time since Aug 1990.

News In Brief

-Lebanon Constitutional Council began april 21 series of meetings under deputy head Mohammed el Majzoub. The council will continue to see to appeals submitted to it. All members were reported agreed to continue their debates  until Good Friday. News reports said the council is not expected to issue imminent rulings.

- State minister Elias Hanna after a meeting with the ambassador of Japan in Lebanon said Japan presence in Lebanon is in the form of commodities and economy but not in human presence. The ambassador said a Japanese parliament delegation visit end of this month would be a first step in this regard and help promote bilateral relations.

- French ambassador paid farewell visits to speaker, deputy speaker, and foreign ministry S.G. He said "the Lebanese know well when their country is facing an imminent danger France will be always present beside them". New ambassador is due to arrive today and former ambassador is departing tomorrow. The arrival of the new ambassador will be prior to the Pope visit and the American team take over of the monitoring committee.

- Kataeb party leader George Saadeh appealed to halt interventions in the GLC election. He said the pressures on the GLC leadership stemmed from vengeance not democratic spirit, and the ongoing challenges and provocations will lead to further fragmentation, which cripples the function and role of  the institutions dealing with social, labour, and human affairs.

- Former prime minister Selim Hoss questioned how the government permitting itself a L.L25bn advance payment, from 1998 fiscal budget, to the high relief committee to cover compensations of last year's April aggression, noting that the amount is still an undecided budget allocation. Hoss said the government is placing parliament before a de facto decision on a coming year's budget.

- Lebanese Forces-Overseas political bureau council's third conference held in Paris ended April 21. The council urged president Elias Hrawi, the first entrusted on the constitution, to seek to readjust the error in the political structure of Lebanon, in order to avert a total collapse. It also urged him to carry on the real final national conciliation, "so that history will be fair to him and coming generations preserve his sacrifices". The statement said "the political bureau, the central committee, and offices-branches' delegates abroad, renewed their total loyalty to Samir Geagea as commander of the LF, holding its project, symbol of its struggle, and title of its cause". The statement also affirmed the continuity of the LF as a political active body, proud of its history, stick to its thoughts, and expressing itself in the increasing popular bases which prove its strong existence with each space of  liberty. It also said the conferees valued high the coming visit to Lebanon of his pontiff, which is a message of peace to the suffering country and people, a balsam to remedy wounds, and a glimpse of hope to those seeking freedom. They expressed "rejection to Lebanon as a farm like and portions, a commodity, hatred and settling account ground and stocks and deals, demanding a lebanon of freedom, justice, institutions and equal opportunities, calling for hands off  judiciary to take it out of interventions and pressures, so that it remains a justice body for all Lebanese".

- Beirut MP Jamil Shammas argued the legality of the naturalization committee which collect levis and charges from the nationality applicants who are beneficiant of the recent annex.

- Dbayeh potable water factory east of Beirut is now celebrating the 100 year jubilee. Today's rally was held under auspices of president Hrawi. He said Lebanon is not ready to give out any drop of water.

News update

-Lebanon council of ministers, at its first meeting since 26th March, endorsed the ministerial committee report on municipal elections and charged the interior minister Michel Murr to lay down draft bills aimed

1. to extend the term in office of the present municipal and mayoral councils to approximately 30th April, 1998

2.another draft bill including all provisions relevant to the municipal elections and

3.a draft bill extending the term of  the parliament 8 more additional months. The council of ministers decided several appointments including housing, electricity and Beirut seaport.

-The Islamic resistance claimed responsibility today of series of attacks in south Lebanon including an attack on the SLA outpost at Kassaret el Ouroush, also blasts explosions at Anan, and Barachit. The Israeli and SLA artillery fired artillery shells in retaliation. The monitoring committee is due to convene tomorrow to discuss an Israeli complaint against a resistance attack at Tair Harfa on April 13 where an SLA man was killed. On April 20 the Islamic resistance attacked the SLA post at Tallousse.

- Jubran Khalil Jubran newly elected national committee held first meeting yesterday and elected the administrative board with unanimous vote. The head of the committee Fouad Hanna Daher Kairouz said the committee main task is to carry on the will of Jubran, far from politics, also to restore a steady financial resource for the museum and the culture, literature and art activities.

- Military tribunal prosecutor charged the president of the cedars Guards party Etiene Saqre of collaborating with Israel including dealing with persons residing in Israel. The charges include Saqre and 6 other members of  his party. The sentence would be 5 to 15 years jail.

Sports Round Up

- In the 14th stage of Lebanon basketball cup championship Ihyaa Riyada defeated Kahraba, Tadamoun Zouk defeated Wardieh, and Riyadi Beirut defeated Riyadi Beit Meri.

- Lebanon Tennis Federation decided to hold a game between Lebanon and Iran in the Cup Davis-group 2 of Asia-Oceanea at the Kahraba club. The Federation also signed contract with tennis player Shon Karam to train the national team for the 8th Arab tournament in July.

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