News from Beirut April 24 1997 ...Search

Troika Rebirth Under Critics

Signals on the rebirth of the troika rule system, as it stemmed from the sudden unexpected extension of the parliament term, the appointments in some key posts and the smooth approval of the partners, came under harsh criticism, namely from parliament opposition groups and MPs.

Speaker Nabih Berri said he was not informed in prior of the government decisions and that he heard the news about it from the media. He told visiting Mps yesterday he was not consulted on the decisions, reassured that the troika has been already and definitely buried with no reverse.

He also quoted saying the other surprise was the administrative appointments, which looked as if its reward to him. He assured he has no share in the affair, and "it was natural that Ahmad Baalbaki to replace the now MP Ali Khalil in the Elissar board. Some visiting MPs quoted saying "the extension of the municipal and mayoral councils term in office was more than it should be, and the extension of the parliament term was too early than it should be, and it was in wrong

timing". "It is natural that the MPs will not object extending their term, and the extension of their mandate is legal but not democratic", news analysts said. Another analyst said "if the reason behind extending parliament term is the summer season, why the government did not endorse

Hoss proposal to shorten the term 6 months so that elections take place in spring not summer". Observers say that the municipal elections most probably will not take place during president Hrawi term, neither in autumn because of the weather conditions, nor in spring because it coincides then with the presidential elections, unless president Hrawi term is extended once again.

Former speaker Hussein Husseini said the extension of the parliament mandate and other government decisions is a further step to push people to desperation, instead of treating the roots of the political crisis.

Husseini said the decisions are a further destruction of the statehood and institutions concept. Former premier Selim Hoss said the government was not successful in taking such decisions and these are a setback and reverse move. "The extension of parliament mandate is unconstitutional, and how can we today decide again something the constitutional Council had rejected", Hoss said. He went on "who can guarantee that the council would not again annul the bill on extension". Hoss argued how can we extend term of a parliament elected by the people for four years only, at the end of the term the parliament will be illegitimate, because people is the source legitimacy.

Hoss said he will resign at the end of the four years term even if the parliament endorsed a bill on extending it. Hoss said the administrative appointments smells as if the troika is rebirthed, and since the beginning we were sure that the troika row was merely a summer cloud and it is going to rebirth at the first testing to split the gains of the public administration.

Batroun MP Butros Harb said the "decisions are consecrating the executive power tendency to drop down the democratic rights of the citizens and the general freedoms, also it is a confiscation of the citizens constitutional rights, since they are banned of electing the local councils, by that, the political authority is achieving its hidden objective, that is turning all decisions including the local decisions a central one, in the hands of those in the executive power". He called the executive power "to reconsider extending the term of parliament".

GLC Elections

- Noon today, news reports said the GLC has at last split into two unions, following the dispute over its leadership. As expected, one poll was held under labor ministry supervision, in presence of 35 out of 54 delegate members and absence of Abu Rizk loyals. Ghanim Zoghby won the leadership with 33 votes in favor. The Labor ministry endorsed the result of the poll and said it was held before public opinion and in presence of media delegates. Labor minister Assaad Hardan said his ministry acted as an arbitrar and not a party. Elias Abu Rizk, surrounded by political and syndicate supporters, announced he does not recognize the poll. Instead, he said a separate independent poll was held in presence of 27 delegates, under the elder member Elias el Habre, and 24 voted in favor of his leadership of the GLC. He said this is a victory for freedom and Lebanon. He said the security forces forced their way in to the venue of the poll and forced out many syndicate members. The security forces denied the claim saying they were carrying an official mission.

Constitutional Council/ State Shawra Council

- The State Shawra Council asked the justice minister to generate the prosecution to enact the legal procedures on the resignation of the Constitutional Council's head jurist Wajdi Mallat, and his relevant declarations. Text of the Shawra Council's ruling on Mallat resignation was published today in front pages. The council said it has discussed on April 16th the resignation of the head of the Constitutional Council, the related declarations attributed to him which drew comments by various parties, for that, in order to avert the consequences it would cause to the public opinion, and its reflections on the credibility of the judicial authority, the shawra Council decided to ask enactment. Excerpts of Mallat remarks were reproduced to justify the measure. On other hand, defense minister Mohsen Dalloul accused jurist Mallat of receiving L.L400mn compensation. Clarifying the case, Mallat told the story of the amount. He said it is a compensation for a lot of land in Baabda, taken by the state to construct a highway, and that this case was pending since 20 years. He said the land is his property and the compensation was paid one year ago.

- On other hand, the Constitutional Council in the framework of its ongoing open sessions, under deputy head Mohammed Majzoub, continued their review of appeals over the last parliament elections. News reports said the council is in agreement on 10 out of the 17 cases. 7 crucial cases are still under discussion now. Parliament sources expect the council to take decisions on the appeals within 15 days .

Bkerke Visitors

-Mp Elie Skaff, following a visit to Cardinal Sfair, said he conveyed to the Cardinal well wishes of the Zahle emigrants in Brazil, namely in Sao Paolo, where Zahle community is double the present population of their town in Lebanon. He said Bkerke is for all Lebanese and its the conscious of all Lebanon, adding that cardinal Sfair visit to Brazil has caused a sentimental outbreak in the Lebanese community.

Pope's Visit

-The national Bloc party reassured its adherence to national coexistence and called supporters and party members to share in receiving his pontiff "a reception adequate with the one who had always followed up the Lebanese events, feeling painful and worried of what the Lebanese were posed to".

-Information minister Bassem Sabbaa said president Hrawi has briefed the government, during its last meeting, on the schedule of his pontiff's visit and the meeting which will be held at Baabda palace on the first day. Sabaa said the Lebanese army has been charged by the government to take the necessary security measures during the Pope's visit.

- Mount Lebanon governor Mohammed Yamout presided  over a meeting of the central committee in charge of setting all necessary preparations related to the Pope's movement in Lebanon, including heads of Kesrouan, Baabda, and Metn municipalities. They discussed the underway preparations including massing the welcoming crowds, decorations, and flags. Yamout announced the formation of a central liaison committee operation room to supervise enforcement of the measures.

The Lebanese Forces LF Assets and Properties

-On Sept. 10 1991 the interior ministry licensed the association named "Lebanese Forces Party" . Later on 23rd March 1994 the license had been annulled, the association was dissolved and the party was prohibited. One month later Samir Geagea was arrested. Since then, no official or legal party mentioned anything on the party property neither its fate or classification, recalled it worth $70mn. Geagea defendants requested Dec. 25. 1994 the State Shawra Council to appoint an expert to list up these assets and properties, of which some were sold out and some others confiscated or registered on names of individuals or companies.

Lawyer Edmond Naim said an appeal on the dissolution of the LF party is still pending at the State Shawra Council. Naim, asked about the LF property, said the state put its hand on, and if the party is revived again, it can demand its return or demand compensation. "As to the property registered for individuals , nobody can confiscate unless after courts prove that the party is the real owner", Naim said.

News In Brief

- Appointment of Socio-Economic Council's members would be again under discussion following the GLC poll.

- Tripoli MP Maurice Fadel, after a visit to prime minister Hariri, said he would quit his post if nothing is done for north Lebanon and its capital, namely freeing the people there from the economic recession and hard living conditions. He said he was happy to be told that the prime minister is going to visit the north after Pope's visit.

- Hizbullah deputy S.G Naim Kassem said the resistance is a pioneer experience which should be generalized and should not be exclusive to one group only. He said the ruling parties are splitting the state gains and they confiscate the people's belongings under the pretext of regional circumstances. Kassem said the postponement of the municipal elections will be followed by another, because the authority is afraid of the people's opinion.

- Representatives of 20 political party and group in Lebanon, at a meeting held yesterday at the head office of the Baath party, under state minister Ghazi Seifeddine, agreed to form a committee to formulate a political platform, a nucleus of a broad political framework aimed to regenerate the political life in Lebanon. Kataeb party representative attended the meeting, while Nasserites and communist party reported absent. The meeting is the second following an earlier one held at Hizbullah head office in Beirut suburb.

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