News from Beirut April 30 1997 ...Search

- Lebanon Today

- News coverage of his pontiff visit to Lebanon is gaining momentum. The underway preparations are maximized as date nears. News analysts today said the Vatican, informally, explored Syria and Christian opposition stands on the visit. The Vatican inquired what the Lebanese in general and the Christians in particular expect of the visit, what is the real stand of the Lebanese Christian opposition and is their reservations still valid, what is the reaction of the Moslem leaders and is the visit welcomed by them , and is it seriously or on surface acceptable to Syria. This inquiry was responded by raising another inquiry on what would his pontiff announce during the visit, at least in the general guidelines, will his pontiff mention the Syrian presence, is it going to be soft or harsh ?. News reports said Syria is apparently not so much enthusiastic, perhaps because of hinting to Geagea release. The sentence on Geagea for attempting assassination of Michael Murr will be issued on 9th May on verge of the Pope visit. There are leaked news saying president Elias Hrawi mediated with the Syrian leadership on the release of Geagea but no positive response was given, that contrast with news leak that his pontiff will raise the case.

- Douri Chamoun left to Paris April 29 to meet Gen. Michael Aoun, ex P.Amin Gemayel, Raymond Edde, and discuss the possibility of issuing a joint memo to be placed on his pontiff during his visit to Lebanon.

- Papal Nuncio Pablo Puente and G.Catholic Beirut bishop Habib Basha discussed the preparation for an audience between his pontiff and some 12,000 Lebanese youth at Harissa. Bishop Basha is assigned to follow up the issue.

- Minister for the displaced Walid Jumblat said "it would be an achievement for his pontiff to change thoughts of some of the Lebanese church circles which is dated back to mid centuries. He said some church circles envisage that the Pope visit will make same results of the visit to Poland, that is leading to Syrian forces pull out of Lebanon. Jumblat warned of such eventuality of Syrian pull out saying the country is fragile, and if they pull out, there are two options ahead either a military rule or civil war. He criticized noncooperation of the church on the displaced issue saying the church see no achievements. He said 60 per cent of the displaced had returned back to their homes contrary to cardinal Sfair 20 per cent average.

-The 5 nation cease-fire monitoring group resumed this morning its discussion of two complaints by Israel and Lebanon.

-The Constitutional Council meeting yesterday was stormy and inconclusive as members reported engaged in disagreements and conflicting rulings which undermined so far announcing ruling on appeals related to last parliament elections. It is confirmed that the council did not sign so far any of the 17 appeal. Some 10 rulings were agreed upon by all members even before head of the council jurist Wajdi Mallat resigned, but 7 others are still disputed. Majority members want to announce rulings on only three appeals, announcing parliament membership of Robert Ghanem replacing present MP Henri Chedid, Mohammed Yehyeh replacing present MP Khaled Daher, and Nazem el Khoury replacing present MP Emile Nawfal. Another council's group wants to announce 4 more rulings including Albert Mukheiber replacing Raji Abu Haidar who is reported holding French nationality, Mikhael Daher replacing Fawzi Hubeish because of pressures and rigging, Habib Sadek replacing Ali Hassan Khalil, who did not resign his post at Elissar on time, and Issam Naaman replacing Khaled Saab, who did not resign his post at the sport city board on time. As the majority press on announcing the rulings and accept the three appeals of Ghanem, Yehyeh, and Khoury, the minority resent and threatened to publicize all the violations, evidences, and details reached during the investigation. The majority respond to the pressures saying such publicity on the deliberations would be harmful and destructive to the peace drive, while the minority argue that replacements is among same sect members and question what connection is that with the peace drive. However, the rulings are not imminent according to press reports and the options in sight are serious. News reports predict that the options include resignation or seclusion of some members of the council, something would entirely torpedo the institute.

-Too much interpretations given on the extension of the parliament mandate for 8 more months. One of the interpretations say that extending the parliament mandate will go together with extending president Hrawi term three more years, so that he will be supervising parliament elections spring 2001 which will elect a desired president succeeding Hrawi.

- Speaker Nabih Berri told the parliament board April 29 that extending the parliament mandate 8 more months is not at a convenient time now and there is still enough time. He also said that if the Constitutional Council does not issue its rulings on the parliament election's appeals from now until 4th May, the parliament will intervene fixing date for a general debate and elect vacant seats (half the number of the council). The parliament board discussed the issue of a note by the state minister for finance Fouad Seniora, expected since two months ago, which exempts 90 percent of the tax fines for a period of four months.

- Japan Liberal Democratic ruling party 2nd man Yushiro Muri arrived to Beirut April 29 heading a parliament delegation. Mr. Muri is due to meet today separately the three top officials and be hosted to a reception at prime minister's residence in Koreitem. He said upon arrival the purpose of the visit is to enhance relations between Lebanon and Japan and discuss the M.E peace. He said the Japanese parliament members delegation will offer certain projects here and try to allocate a financial aid to Lebanon. Lebanese Mp Talal Merebi said the case of Japanese Red Army members is out of the framework of the meeting. News reports said the visit is taking place with caution without any hint to the Red Army case.

- Lebanon foreign minister Fares Boueiz met April 29 president of Tunisia and conveyed a verbal message from president Hrawi.

- National committee for solidarity with Iran held rally at summerland hotel in Beirut in protest to the German judiciary sentence in the case of Mikanos.

- Journalists without frontiers organization cabled prime minister Rafic hariri protesting arrest of M.T.V station news staff member Tony Chamieh mid March. Chamieh was charged of collaborating with outside and now jailed at Roumieh prison.

- Lebanon private hospitals union's head Dr. Fawzi Odeimi declared 2nd May a warning day in which hospitals in Lebanon will halt for two hours except emergency in protest for delayed payment of due amounts on public sector.

- Former leader of Lebanon GLC Elias Abu Rizk, at a press conference held April 29, reiterated accusation of rigging the elections, assured that 1st May festival will be held at Beaurivage hotel. Abu Rizk said a general conference of the national syndicate forces will be held on 6th May at same hotel.

- Demonstrators at Iqlimm Kharoub protested against C.C.C quarry in Iqlim Kharoub which supply rocks to Beirut airport project. They said explosions at the quarry is similar to quakes and it shook down houses in the area.

- Martyrs square famous statue placed down on 6th May 1960 in remembrance of  the 6th May martyrs during Ottoman rule in 1916 is now being repaired at St. Esprit university and will be placed back to its previous place after infrastructure works in downtown Beirut is over.

Sports Round Up

- Lebanon football Confederation endorsed the list of 66 football team for the 1997-1998 Lebanon's cup.

- Riyadi Ghazir defeated Apolo-Batroun in Fouad Chehab volleyball tournament scoring semi final rank.

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