News from Beirut May 26 1997 ...Search

-Lebanon-Government, Hot week and Hot weather

Lebanon's government is to face this week series of headaches starting with its weekly meeting set on Tuesday. The meeting would sort out differences on the pending emigrants attaches, which was one of the reasons behind the political bickering between president Hrawi and speaker Berri. Foreign minister Fares Boueiz is insisting not to put into effect a relevant decree.

Hariri government is to stand before parliament on Wednesday and Thursday in a debate over its policy. A vote of confidence would take place but it is certain that the government still have majority votes. The opposition would discuss the government policy and squeeze it but they realize it won't go out. Lebanon's public and private 60,000 school teacher are to go on strike Wednesday demanding a pension and retirement modernized system, salary and minimum salary increases for the public sector, and other allowances. The strike will put 750,000 student out for one day. It is the first such strike following the election of the new labor union executive board. Prime minister Rafic Hariri visited the Syrian capital Damascus and held talks Sunday with Syrian V.P Abdel Halim Khaddam. News reports said they discussed outcome of Syria and Lebanon last contacts aimed at enhancing the Arab stand in view of the present prevailing peace talks impasse.

Hariri-Patriarch Sfair

-Hariri held talks Saturday in Bkerke with Patriarch Sfair in presence of his adviser Daoud Sayegh. He met the Patriarch in private for an hour. Hariri responded to press reporters saying their evaluation of the Pope's visit was very positive. He said the second issue was the displaced "which was one of the most important issues his pontiff has referred to and as of early next month the return of the displaced will be speeded up". Asked about the Patriarch's apprehensions, Hariri said "the communication with him is permanent and steady and we know the issues he is not relaxed to and the ones he is". He said the elections, government, and municipalities are the only methods to participate in our democratic institutions, which is a constitutional right for the Christians and others. Unofficial information said that Hariri and the Patriarch view was identical on the outcome of the Pope's visit and the apostolic guidance. They agreed that the apostolic guidance has gained an almost nation wide consensus. Patriarch Sfair quoted saying the church is committed to the guidance spiritual headings, and the state should respond to the political headings, such as initiating a rebalance of the situation at the earliest time. He hinted to the adjustment of the Christian representation in any new government, also in the public administration and the administrative reshuffles.

The Patriarch called for a new election modern law to be laid down as from now, be acceptable to all Lebanese, and encourage them to join the coming elections and the political life in general. The Patriarch said to have discussed with Hariri the file of Gen. Michel Aoun, and president Amin Gemayel, calling to clear the case negatively or positively. He also demanded that in the case of Samir Geagea there should not be two standards, and either to trial all or pardon all. On the displaced issue, Patriarch Sfair said to have argued why the delay to settle the case. Hariri said to have assured the Patriarch that the obstacles are financial and promised to regenerate the file next month both financially and practically. He asked the Patriarch to help the government and urge the displaced to return back, also to visit the mountain for this purpose. The two sides discussed briefly the Christian Syrian dialogue and the Patriarch denied he has assigned anyone to tackle this file. The Patriarch called for the implementation of the Taif accord, referring to the Syrian presence in Lebanon, and assured he understands the security considerations which require this presence, but he hinted that the Lebanese army preparedness is accomplished and it enables the army to restore security. The Patriarch quoted saying he is with continuing Syria and Lebanon simultaneous peace tracks. Hariri referred to the need for Syrian army in Lebanon, especially in case of any Israeli withdrawal from south Lebanon, because that will require dispatch of massive Lebanese forces to the area.

- Prime minister Hariri, in a T.V interview with Orbit network, said Lebanon's election law should be modified to allow an MP to represent all regions and all communities not only his community. He said the dialogue with Syria should be a Lebanese-Syrian dialogue not Christian-Syrian one. He agreed that the troika has already died and buried but stressed the need for coordination and understanding between the presidents. Hariri outlined the major achievements that took place since the war was put off. He hailed the courageous decisions taken by president Hrawi to rebuild the state and restore local and external confidence in the state. Hariri denied he is not interested and ignorant of the daily living problems of the Lebanese, admitted that the per capita for the Lebanese is $3,600 but it is not distributed fairly. Hariri said there are parliamentary and administrative supervision on the state spendings, namely on the projects financed out the budget, and assured that 95 per cent of the projects were signed according to tenders. He said he disagree with Patriarch Sfair in saying there were no change in the financial and tax legislation. Hariri said everybody is speaking on the priorities but none is specifying what are these priorities in their viewpoint. He assured that Lebanon in the year 2000 will be totally different, especially after completing projects such as the airport, government hospitals, and outlets of the capital Beirut. On the Syrian presence, Hariri said "there were unfortunate words on that. The Syrians played a decisive role in halting war and in the stability we live in now and still play that role. No one is demanding Syrian withdrawal neither today nor tomorrow, though some people question when they would leave. The Syrian presence in Lebanon now is essential for Lebanon's stability and security. Syria is present here according to an accord that was requested by Lebanese officials, further it was consecrated in the Taif, to which the Lebanese leaders agreed, also other Arabs agreed, consequently becoming an international document.

News In Brief

- News reports said speaker Nabih Berri is willing to center during the parliament debate this week on the daily living hardships, the accumulating public debts, the budget deficit, and the social allowances. The reports said the parliament will try to oblige government to put into effect relevant laws and that the vote of confidence will be ordinarily exercised.

- Syrian defense minister Mustafa Tlass and Syrian army senior officials met minister Suleiman Franjieh in his hometown in north Lebanon in presence of deputy speaker Elie Firzli and other dignitaries. Talks centered on the Lebanese general situation and Syria-Lebanon coordination.

- Defense minister Mohsen Dalloul said Sunday he supports the outcry by sheikh Subhi Tufeili but he reserves the negative moves. He called the opposition either to withhold vote of confidence in government, if it has the conviction that the government is not qualified, or to stop its intimidations.

- News today tried to explore backgrounds of sheikh Subhi Tufeili move in Bekaa, and raised the question if its locally motivated or has connection with some regional accounts. The analysts said Hizbullah S.G respond to Tufeili stemmed an existing problem between the two which goes beyond locality.

-Tufeili continues to prepare for the 4th July revolt of the starved. He assailed at a meeting Sunday prime minister Hariri, calling the people for his arrest before he takes off abroad with his money. Tufeili said there is no other option than to put Hariri to Trial.

- News on the parliamentary provisional by elections: minister Hobeich opened his campaign. Mikhail Daher assured he is running for the seat. Many politicians urge voters to participate in the upcoming by elections saying that is what the Pope has called for during the visit to Lebanon including sharing in the making of democratic life in Lebanon.

- Iranian Shura Council's member and daughter of Iranian former president Hashimi Rafsanjani is presently touring south of Lebanon. She met in Beirut president Hrawi, speaker Berri, and sheikh Mohammed Mehdi Shamseddine.

- Some Lebanese leading reports described the Iranian newly elect president Mohammed Khatimi as symbolizing a second Islamic revolution's victory. A leading report said "Khatimi emerges from behind shadow to defeat the Bazar, Houza, and magnets of the regime". Khatimi is married to the daughter of Rabab Sadre sister.

- Hizbullah S.G sheikh Hassan Nasrallah said the Iranian democracy is one of  the most successful in the entire world, because it allows 15 years old youths to vote while in Lebanon the state is wary of 18 years old youths to have this right. Nasrallah said the Lebanese authority is afraid of the young generation. He said the Iranian achievements are a result of the revolution there, teachings of Imam Khumeini, and guidance of Imam Khaminii.

- General director of the displaced ministry Hisham Nassereddine in a tour Sunday on villages in Aley said a new schedule of compensations for repatriation and rebuilding will be issued shortly, after the fund for the displaced received pledges of funding. A displaced ministry release said compensation of reparations in 54 village in Aley amounted L.L 55bn and number of the beneficence total 6,370 citizen. The release said 1,754 citizen benefited the rebuilding compensations totaling L.L24bn. The release also outlined that some 60 project namely infrastructures in around 71 village were already implemented for a total cost of L.L48bn.

Sports Round Up

- Lebanon national football made victory in Singapore beating Singapore team at their home 2-1 on Saturday. With such victory Lebanon is surely in the second rank in Asia's 7th group, until the match between Kuwait and Singapore which will take place in Kuwait on June 6. though Kuwait winning the match is most probable, any reverse result even if its equal, will force Lebanon to play with Kuwait on June 22 in Beirut. Despite Lebanon's victory the fair result for Lebanon should have been 5-1 in view of the Lebanese players hard work and devotion.

- The Asian Olympic committees' secretaries and representatives conference hosted in Beirut for two days at Commodore hotel issued series of  recommendations. The recommendations centered on the women role in the Asian sport and promoting that role, also working on women contribution in Olympic committees at least by 10 per cent from now until the year 2000.

- 15,000 plastic chair are fixed already at Beirut sport city stadium in the last step to qualify it before the Arab 8th tournament. The city's future capacity is 50,000 chair and works in the city will be finalized by end of the year. Some 56 outlet were designed to go in and out to the stadium. Artificial grass was already planted and extended. Prime minister Hariri is reported to have paid many frequent visits to the city urging the workers to finish it on time before auguration of the Arab tournament.

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