News from Beirut April 26 1997 ...Search

Lebanon-Labor Union

-The controversial GLC election is now facing the reality of two existing loyalist and opposition unions. The GLC is in fact split and that is something even the too long war could not be able to do. The so called "new leadership" of the GLC under Ghanim Zoghbi is acting as victorious, and will be received even by president Elias Hrawi, who maintained a neutral stand on the election.

Elias Abu Rizk who also claimed he won the post in an independent separate election would go on in his battle and perhaps would appeal to judiciary. The fact is that the Labor movement in Lebanon received a fatal blow.

News In Brief

- The Islamic resistance fired back Apr. 25 at Israeli and SLA posts at Jabal Blat, near the borderline and Abadieh hill near Houla, wounding two Israeli soldiers, in retaliation to Israeli shelling of civilians at Kfaretabnite on April 25.

- Speaker Nabih Berri is reported against extending the parliament term and instead favors issue of a law for the 2000 parliament elections including a provision stipulating a three and half year term instead thus making later parliament elections in spring time not summer.

- Prime minister Rafic Hariri visited Damascus April 26 and met Syrian V.P Abdel Halim Khaddam.

- Lebanon council of ministers is due to convene next Wednesday with 43 item on its agenda, notably, postponing qualifying examination for secondary students.

- A Lebanese army chopper with officers on board landed at Bkerke 24th April to check the landing site of the chopper which will airlift his pontiff Pope John Paul II from the presidential palace during his visit to Lebanon. Two other choppers will escort the Pope chopper airlifting the delegation accompanying his pontiff including 80 persons among which are cardinals and bishops. Some 28 cardinal will be hosted at Bkerke. A gold cup decorated with diamonds, transferred from downtown Beirut Mar Georgeos cathedral by Mer Yuhanna Maroun in between lulls in 1976, will be the cup of the sermon held by his pontiff near the naval base in Beirut.

- Baabda presidential palace protocol department did not distribute yet invitation cards to heads of the religious communities to a reception to receive his pontiff at Baabda. Druze leaders are not in agreement yet over to whom the invitation should be extended.

- Bishop Bustros of the G.Catholic community in Baalbeck assured April 26 that the Vatican told Syria his pontiff visit to Lebanon is not against Syria, and the synod has called the Lebanese Christians, who evacuated between 1975-1990 to return back home and play full social economical role.

He said the Synod also called for ending the Israeli occupation and withdrawal of Syrian forces from Lebanon.

- Ex president Amin Gemayel, who continues his visit to Brazil upon an invitation extended by speaker of parliament of Sao Paolo state, said the struggle aims to return Lebanon to its former era.

- The 5 nation cease-fire monitoring committee is due to convene Tuesday at Naqoura to discuss the Israeli complaint accusing resistance of firing shells April 25 that landed inside the Israeli borders.

- Hizbullah former S.G Subhi Tufeili said "if our people's interest dictates striking civilians or non civilians, to retaliate the enemy's aggressions against our villages and people, we shall do". He said the Katyusha firing is always in self defense when the enemy destroys our villages.

-The Constitutional Council continues debating appeals on Parliament elections. The Council's sources said it is on permanent session but no decisions rulings are taken yet.

- Head of the foreign affairs committee of Japan's parliament Ishiro Isawa, after visiting the Qana martyrs site in south Lebanon and a meeting with Lebanese counterpart MP Ali el Khalil, said the US assistance to Israel is not helping peace in the M.E.

- Maronite League's EC member George Hayek resigned his post in protest to a three lawyers draft plan on the structure of the league.  

- NLP party under Douri Chamoun called for a review of the too many violations of the ruling society which blow at the national invariables and shake down the country's foundations. It said extension of the parliament mandate ignored the Constitutional Council's ruling and perhaps it is intended to squeeze the council more. The NLP statement described the dealing with the issue of municipal elections as light and said perhaps the authority is scared of the opposition winning the poll, consequently, it would demand for reserves and amounts allocated to the municipalities and were spent on other fields. It also said that acting toward the GLC aimed at nibbling all institutions and striking at democracy also to wipe out all remaining forms of political life.

- Former head of the Constitutional Council Jurist Wajid Mallat said the extension of the parliament mandate is unconstitutional and contradicts with the conclusion of article 19 and 42. He said "who granted himself the right to self extend the mandate can possibly extend to himself a life long term, something is not possible neither in term of provision nor logic'. Mallat said the present term expires the year 2000, so what is the imminent danger which justifies the extension. Member of the council judge Selim Elazir said "it is natural that rulers do not accept someone to censor them".

- Hizbullah MP Ammar Mussawi said the extension of the mandate is suspicious and casting doubts, namely on the timing and the form. He said the state officials are practicing a policy of splitting gains and shares also of distributing awards. He said the extension could be a trap, planned by the government, aimed to serve as bribe to MPs, in order to keep silent on the so many malpractices.

- Lebanese National Conference coordinating-body representing Gen. Aoun loyalists said "ridiculing the democratic life in Lebanon is a daily bread for the ruling society". The statement added that "extending parliament mandate breached the principle of separation of powers and the rule that executive power should yield to judiciary rulings". It said such breach allows further another appeal before the Constitutional Council to annul extension. "On Naturalization, the conference rejected the annexed decree same as the earlier decree for many reasons, adding "it is weird that the ruling society go on violating the law at a time the Constitutional Council is asked to annul the first decree. As to the GLC election, "it is the steam roller" story repeated every sunrise and sunset". On economy, "the vast majority of the Lebanese are living in unprecedented poverty even in the war time". The conference argued "Is it reasonable that a minimum salary is not enough to pay for the electricity bill, or is it reasonable that the public sector employees are deprived of any salary increase for the second consecutive year". On finance, "perhaps the government L.L 25bn to the High relief Committee make it forget that a parliament does exist and instead gave itself the right to issue a Law ". The conference said Bishop Elias Audi remark during sermon on Friday saying "no one in the country can say the right word with high front", is praised but we assure him there are people who still say that right word "...

- Batroun MP Butros Harb said naturalization is a great danger on the national identity of Lebanon, because naturalizing 200 thousand in the past, without confirming the required conditions, was a great political mistake, and a first step on the way to discredit the national identity.

Harb said such massive naturalization was unprecedented in any world country and too many had been naturalized while not residing in Lebanon. He said some of those naturalized were Palestinians and in total the naturalized number represented 7 per cent of Lebanon's population. Harb added saying "granting nationality to non-Christians with an average of 90 per cent, casted doubts among the Christian". Mp Harb emphasized that the annexed-decree should be annulled and he hinted he would demand a vote of confidence at parliament.

- The naturalization annex, aimed to satisfy Christians and make balance with earlier naturalization of Moslems, is not satisfactory to the Christians in Lebanon, who refuse naturalizing Christians residing in some Arab countries.

- The Lebanese emigrants in Zaire are facing serious problems because of their alignment and connections with Mobuto regime, news agencies said. It said that some Lebanese admitted they have dealt with a corrupted regime and paid bribes to achieve their goals, and now they face the poor Zairians' envy and hatred of the rebels who accuse them of helping to smuggle out their country's fortune during the past 32 years of Mobuto. The rebel leader Capella in a recent speech said there are good and bad among Lebanese same as among Zairians, but three days later, more Lebanese were arrested, and the rebels detained 9 Lebanese for four hours, for possessing a hunting rifle which was in fact licensed. parents of Lebanese detained in Mbuji-May called on a local paper here and conveyed an urgent appeal by those detained in Mbuji-May urging the officials to find any way to mediate with anyone who can help their release and allow them return to Lebanon.

- The Armenian church and political parties commemorated April 24 the victims of the Armenian massacres. the Armenian groups emphasized their rights in the 82nd commemoration and praised Lebanon's parliament decision to announce 24th April a day of solidarity with the Armenian people.

- Director general of the UNRWA in consecutive visits to the Palestinians camps in Lebanon, including his three visits to Ain Helwe camp, aimed at calming down the Palestinian refugees and contain the moves intended by the "popular committees" which represent the camps residents. The committees had even warned the director of not entering again the camps. Observers said the director general Leonel Brisson could succeed to counter the moves and is blaming the Lebanese authority, not the UNRWA, for the many problems facing the Palestinian refugees.

- Libyan bar association delegation visited Qana martyrs cemetery and expressed support for their families. The delegation blamed the Lebanese bar association for not showing any concern to help their visit. Members of the delegation said they came in respond to a call by the Arab bars union to share in the commemoration but arrived late via Cairo because of the embargo on Libya.

- Lebanon tourism minister Nicolas Fattouche is going to visit Mexico and Philippine upon invitations by his counterparts.

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