News from Beirut May 19  1997 ...Search

-Constitutional Council Rulings on Parliament Election

- Lebanon Constitutional Council is expected to announce today its rulings on the parliamentary elections appeals. The most probable is that appeals on 4 parliament seats would be accepted and by elections will take place at 3 constituencies. A decisive session of the council which has been held Saturday in an unknown place and uncertain quorum reached an agreed verdict which will be announced today Monday. The council was in agreement on 3 appeals challenges including Robert Ghanem v/s Henri Chedid-west Bekaa, Nazem Khoury v/s Emile Mawfal-Byblos, Mohammed Yehyeh v/s Khaled Daher-Akkar. An additional challenge was agreed upon in last moment including Mikhael Daher v/s Fawzi Hubeish. The gentleman agreement called for holding by elections for the 4 challenged seats, and that the council's verdict won't be publicized, including only names of the MPs who will lose their respective seats. The decision to hold by elections would compensate the Constitutional Council a credibility that was at stake lately and lend its ruling more seriousness and importance. These by elections in three constituencies is an imminent due event.

- In Beirut, a Lebanese military source announced May 18 that during the clashes, Israeli helicopters fired a missile at a Lebanese army post destroying a vehicle but no casualties were inflicted.

- Israel's defense minister declared saying "the Lebanese army is not in our view an enemy and Israel is not seeking to escalate the situation in south Lebanon but to respond to the source of fire".


- Health minister Suleiman Franjieh described the visit of the Pope to Lebanon as very positive and gave the Lebanese and the Christians more momentum. He said he hopes that the Christians know well how to benefit from the visit and not to misunderstand that point once again, as if we know how to invest that visit it will be a new push ahead for Lebanon and particularly the Christians. Franjieh said "if the Christians reached a comprehension with Syria, especially Bkerke, we shall march behind the Patriarch. He said "its a dream to have such comprehension with Syria, namely if its to the interest of the Christians as it is happening now and we are all responsible of that thing". Franjieh said " we should walk on that road with care and not to make mistakes and I think its a new chance to the Christians they should benefit from, not as it was said in the past and each one interpret it according to his temper". "The Vatican is with the complementation not coexistence and his pontiff's visit was trying to tell us to depend on ourselves and you are in an environment that you should coexist with. He also found that a Christian state is not surviving nor have a chance of life", Franjieh outlined. He quoted his grand father Suleiman Franjieh Sr. telling the Lebanese front when it had tried to divide Lebanon "If we go ahead with such step from where we can have the revenues for such state'. Judging on that, Franjieh continued, we have seen that Christians cannot live alone in this region and they should mix up and be open to Lebanese society. He said "I am not yet fully acquainted with the apostolic guidance but the general atmosphere is to merge in the Arabic and Lebanese society, and that is our line which we lived by and will die with ".


- The last critics by prime minister Hariri and minister Walid Jumblat against the army institution is still a controversial issue. Health minister Suleiman Franjieh said it is not in the interest of anybody that the army institution be harmed in any form. He said "none can hint at Gen. Emile Lahoud and no institution has been run on the same national method as the running of the army. Franjieh said "if they were involved in politics at some time such issue can be resolved in line with the law and within the state, as there is one government under which all institutions are under its authority". He said if the matter is trading words and controversy there is no solution and no one has any interest in anything but solidarity.

- Minister for the emigrants Talal Arsalan said "my stand on the army is known both toward the army and the commander, it is a firm steady stand not emotional neither circumstantial". Arsalan said the accusations against army of interfering in political affairs and particularly in the election of the GCLC executive board should be reviewed. He disclosed that a government minister tried to involve the army 2-3 weeks before these elections, asking the army command to name a successor of the GCLC then leader Elias Abu Rizk, but Gen. Lahoud and the command refused such intervention. Minister Arsalan  said "if this is the accusation, I demand the government to start a serious investigation".

- MPs Kabalan Issa el Khoury, Wagih Baarini, Emile Nawfal, and former MP Fathi Yakan, refused casting doubts on the military establishment.

News In Brief

- News today raised the question whether Hariri government would reconsider its rebuilding plan and lay down a table of priorities in order to diminish the budget deficit and limit the negative impacts of the present free of economy. The question stems from the fact that the peace process is at a stand still, contrary to the early expectation predicting it is imminent, and the prime minister did not expect himself to run and administer a crisis, but was expecting all M.E parties to sign peace accords, for that, he initiated an economical rebuilding plan considering all projects in all sectors deem urgent and prior. As a result, it became evident that the huge cost of such plan is not matching with the limited resources, something led to sign loans from the international markets which in turn rocketed the public debts further.

- Minister Walid Jumblat in an interview on the T.V network Orbit reiterated his remarks against the Lebanese army and security agencies. He assailed those calling for the rescue of the Lebanese Christians "as if Lebanon is another Ochwitz concentration camp". He called for a dialogue on the Syrian presence in the country "which is one of strategic points of disagreements". He declared he is stick to that presence and the "Lebanese situation is unstable as long there is not yet an agreement on its Arab identity". Jumblat denied that his stands are variable, described most the government sessions as ridiculous since most of the key decisions are reached among the troika members, with ministers standing as idle witnesses, so why I should attend sessions". He criticized building the Lebanese economy on the basis that peace with Israel is coming tomorrow". Jumblat attributed the present security stability in Lebanon to the "Syrian direct intervention and the disband of militias, but the system in Lebanon is still posed to be shaken because it continues a confessional system and because we could not yet reach the stage of fixing its Arab identity in all fields". Jumblat said the apostoplic guidance put emphasis on the Christians, and the Catholics in particular, being an integral part of the Arab world, and his pontiff's message was clear in saying no to isolation". He assailed the theory of  plural civilizations, and said one day he will reveal the implications on the assassination of his father Kamal Jumblat. He said the Arabic cause is more important than Kamal Jumblat. He said he met the assassins of his father and shook hands, forgiven, and forgot". He said the dialogue with Rome could be easier than that with the Patriarch in Bkerke.

On the army, Jumblat said the commander of the army is at the end a state employee and does not have the right to lecture on ethical or ideal politics, and the defense minister is who speaks for the army not the commander. In another radio interview, he said some people wants to alter his pontiff's visit to their political accounts, and the most important now is the apostolic guidance which the Patriarch should translate it on ground because we are governed by common living. Jumblat called for the appointment of a chairman for the displaced fund and said political stagnation on the post should stop.

- Former minister Brig. Issam abu Jamra, a member of the military government under Gen. Michel Aoun, in an open letter to papal nuncio Pablo Puente, on verge of his expired term and near farewell, reminded him, with mockery ridiculous words, of his achievements, "namely of the sovereignty, independence, and freedom of Lebanon which had been restored, as result of the daring faithful policy Puente has practiced in Lebanon in the past 7 years".

- Hizbullah former S.G sheikh Subhi Tufeili has launched at Ashoura this year "the revolt of the starved". Delegations from the Bekaa region and southern suburbs attended the rally which was held May 18 at Ras el Ein in Baalbek town. Tufeili walked in front of the march barefooted without the Islamic traditional amama. He addressed the rally saying "the Lebanese government humiliated us and exercised a criminal policy but we shall fight thieves with all our determination". He said "this is second phase of the revolt of  the starved" and the third decisive phase will be at the Baalbek serail on 4th July. He announced his movement will declare civil rebellion and if the government does not respond to the demands, the revolt will move to Beirut, where palaces will be sieged and all ways will be blocked before the authority, so that either they go or our rights will be taken.

- Hundreds of applicants for naturalization at Jdeide Serail are posed to the  most severe humiliation and malpractice, a Leading daily said today. The report said even the Muslims who are excluded from applying are posed to the same practice. Christians from Egypt, Syria, Iraq, and Jordan are applying but under severe terms and behavior. The leading daily said brokerages, mediations, insults, and even beating with a stick, is the humiliation now suffered by those applying for nationality.

- Belgium airliner Sabena resumed Friday first of its flights to Beirut following a stoppage since 1985 and rising total airlines flying to and from Lebanon to 30, additional to the two national airliners MEA and TMA, and the many other chartered flights. Sabena will fly three times a week to and from Beirut.

- Sports Round Up

-Lebanon football national team is to leave today to Singapore to play third game for Lebanon in the finals of the world cup 16 which will take place Saturday.

- The S.Korean Samsung volleyball team won the championship of the 9th Asian clubs organized by the Lebanese volleyball federation at Ghazir stadium. Samsung beat at last match the Japanese Nippon with 3-01 on May 18. The Saudi Hilal ranked second beating the Iranian Baikan 3-1.

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