News from Beirut April 7  1997 ...Search

Lebanon-Municipal Elections Row

An 8 member ministerial committee under deputy prime minister Michel Murr is now supposed to lay down proposals to sort out differences between president Hrawi and prime minister Hariri on the stalled municipal elections, minister Murr announced yesterday following shuttle diplomacy over the week-end involving Damascus and Beirut.

The committee's proposals are to be discussed and endorsed later by the government. Prime minister Hariri, giving a resume of Sunday's exerted efforts and a meeting with president Hrawi, said his relations with P.Hrawi is at the best and he is relaxed to the outcome. The committee's proposals are supposed to satisfy both sides but not yet disclosed.

The 8 members represent various political groups in Lebanon. Interior minister Michel Murr said all the reports published in the media after the parliament plenary session was produced by media. He denied the slogan of looser and winner , also denied any Syrian involvement in the elections. Prime minister Hariri, who is leaving today in a tour which will take him to Russian Federation, France and Canada lasting until after Eid el Adha, briefed the speaker on the result of the meeting held with P.Hrawi in Baabda.

Constitutional Council-Head's Resignation

- Lebanon Constitutional Council Head's Resignation is at a stand still. Wajdi Mallat who has resigned the post last week said his resignation is irrevocable and a coming meeting with speaker of parliament would only enhance their friendship but he continues to stick to his stand. The Council is scheduled to meet on Wednesday but little is expected, since the head resigned, two members going to leave to France, and one other member of  the total 10 members is sick. Philip Khairallah, who is now heading the Judicial High Council and going to retire on July, is one possible successor to replace Mallat. In July, the Constitutional Council's present term will expire, allowing replacement of five of it's members, and election of the head and deputy head.

- Cardinal Sfair on Sunday said the drive of Lebanon's rule is not doing well and the proof is that laws on political parties, administrative decentralization, media, socio economic council, and municipalities are still pending and not yet passed. He said the resignation of judge Wajdi Mallat is another proof on interventions aimed to force the judiciary body to yield to different attitudes instead of complying to it's rulings.

-The news analysts today said the Constitutional Council, a new practice in Lebanon's fragile political and democratic body, could not be more than a merely calculator counting number of votes and confirm it is correct, instead of being an authority to decide legality or not of the parliament won seats. The Council is established in civilized states correctly applying the democratic system, but in Lebanon it is difficult for the political authority to accept such correct practice which can annul parliament seats.

However, the council's establishment was delayed until the 1992 elections took place, and now after it was established, there are attempts to delay decisions on the appeals presented to it.

National Media council, No New T.V's Licenses

-The National Media Council finished Saturday a report on 33 license applications including radio and television stations. The council handed the report to information minister Bassem Sabbaa who will place it over the council of ministers to decide the new licensed stations. 6 radio stations are to be licensed, including two political stations, the Voice of Lebanon, which the Kataeb party now owns third of it's shares, and Voice of the People, also four non-political stations-group two including Pax, Nostalgie, Mix-F.M, and Radio Lebanon Star. News reports said there will be no licenses to new television stations, whether political or non-political, after last year's licensing of the LBC, Future (Hariri ownership), MTV, and NBN (Speaker Berri). It is recalled that Al Manar T.V station, exceptionally continue to broadcast, for political reasons related to the resistance against Israel and with government consent. Minister Walid Jumblat and Suleiman Franjieh are preparing files to ask licensing political radio stations. The National Media Council submitted it's report on time. The deadline to finish the report expired on 4th April. The door is not closed yet to further applicants meeting the legal terms. Four political TV stations, Two non-political ones, and 11 radio stations, have applied for licenses. Prime minister Hariri has said earlier he will be committed to decisions made by the council and will not use the special power given to the council of ministers on licensing.

Lebanon-Another Tremor

-Lebanon was struck yesterday at around 11.00 p.m (LT) by another quake lasting around 8 seconds. The Bhannes observatory said it is another aftershock of the last recent quake and registered 2.5 on Richter scale. Many citizens in various regions felt the tremor.

Lebanon-Russian Federation

- Lebanon's prime minister arrived today to Moscow in a 3 day official visit. He is scheduled to sign several agreements especially economical and hold talks with president Yeltsin, prime minister and foreign minister. Lebanon, an exporter of industrial and agricultural products, is an importer of steel, wood,and minerals from Moscow. Lebanon was one of the first Arab countries to open diplomatic mission in Moscow in 1952.

Christians-Jesus Poster

Thousands of Lebanese Christian car drivers are sticking since weeks a poster of Jesus Christ on their automobiles. A phenomenon that spread at the beginning of the Christian Catholic feast and days before announcing the planned visit of Pope John Paul II to Lebanon. Rapidly a better quality posters, with phrases such as "king of kings", or "friend of Jesus", and recently posters representing the child Jesus, St Mary, Pope and Saint Esprit, are on sale in libraries and supermarkets. All the photos are taken from the film Nazareth's Jesus directed by the famous Franco Zifrelli. Some Christian Catholic clerics, including Byblos Maronite Bishop Beshara Raii, does not like the phenomenon saying it harms the sacred Jesus image. Some other said it is motivated by their self faith.

-Tripoli Maronite Bishop Jubrail Tubyia, 67 years old, passed  away yesterday.

-Syriac Heritage conference ended Saturday after five sessions discussing the Syriac monastery order in the early Christianity.

-Zahle Greek Catholic Bishop Andre Haddad said on a Sunday sermon he thanked God for the pass over of the municipal elections cloud, which could have been a main reason of a public split.

News In Brief

- The ICRC supervised today a swap between Islamic resistance and SLA along the Bater-Jezzine crossing. The Islamic resistance traded SLA George Khoury for three men including Jaafar Hraish, Mohammed Hazimeh, and Neemeh Bazzi.

- President Elias Hrawi reiterated yesterday his determination to hold the municipal elections on time. News analysts in Beirut continue to speculate what reasons were behind the postponement. It said the elections could have led to a new political structure in contrast with that resulting from the last parliament elections, and that the preparations for the elections make it clear who will be winning the councils in most of Lebanon.

- Parliament deputy speaker Elie Firzli left to Athens to attend the Mediterranean Parliamentarians Conference which has emerged from Barcelona Conference.

-Lebanese emigrants minister Talal Arsalan continue his visit to Argentine. He visited Land of Fire state deep south Argentine on a private jet offered by president Carlos Menem.

- The 3-4 Thousand Lebanese emigrants in Zaire are facing the vague uncertain situation there. S.G of the emigrants ministry Haitham Jumaa said the French authorities agreed to evacuate some 108 Lebanese mostly men from the battled area in south east Zaire. The Lebanese community is reported closer to president Mubuto while the Jewish community is closer to the rebels led by Kapila.  About 97 per cent of the Lebanese are shiites from south Lebanon, and well established in commerce with some making big fortunes.

-Former prime minister Omar Karami denied that Syria has any connection with the postponement of the municipal elections in Lebanon. He said all the state had lost credibility not only the government, calling for a government change that does not even save the prime minister Hariri himself.

-The Lebanese National Conference Coordination Board (Gen. Aoun loyalists) said the play at Nejmeh square, where government and parliament both averted holding the municipal elections, was degrading human dignity and a play down of humans mind. The board said that the resignation of judge Mallat has complicated the issue instead of resolving it. It said the resignation was a signal of despair and negativity, not an act of resistance, and all wished something else had happened.

- Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Pan Arab Baath Socialist party continued in Beirut and other regions. President Elias Hrawi and other Lebanese figures sent a cable of congratulation to president Assad.

- Prime minister Rafic Hariri is going to visit Tehran in two or three month time, Iranian ambassador said. The ambassador discussed with state minister in charge of finance Fouad Seniora the files related to the visit.

- An Italian Cultural Centre was augurated yesterday in Tyre-south at a reception held in presence of Italian ambassador, mrs Berri and Mps.

-Representatives of some 60 secondary schools in Lebanon, in a move to urge government annul the qualifying examinations, conferred on the outcome of their contacts with education minister and other officials.


-Lebanon was qualified to the finals of group two of the Asia-Oceanea Tennis Davis Cup beating Thai with clean 5-0 in the semi final during the past three days at Kahraba -Zouk. Ali Hamade and Hisham Zaatini in doubles defeated the Thai players on Saturday 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 and 6-4.

- Lebanese Ansar and Tunisia football teams played a scoreless game at yesterday's friendly charity game at Burj Hammoud. The revenue of the match was allocated to Lebanon's orphans under UNICEF.

- Ikhaa Aley defeated Burj 2-0 in the Second phase of the Adha football tournament. Another match between the organiser of the tournament Safa and Homenmen was postponed because of the rainy weather.

- Lebanon defeated Jordan in kick-boxing with 4-3 on Saturday in Amman.

- Egyptian Football Federation decided to participate in the 8th Arab sport tournament going to be held in Beirut. The youth team-below 20 will be participating instead of the national team which is engaged in the Egyptian Dawri.

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