News from Beirut May 28  1997 ...Search

Emigrants Attaches-Today's Top Story

- The compromise solution of some 21 emigrants attaches unanimously approved yesterday during the government meeting is a top story in Lebanon today. The mechanism proposed by prime minister Hariri stated giving them special passports and be assigned at Lebanese missions abroad not on consulates. Speaker Berri is reported satisfied, president Hrawi and the foreign minister are not angered, the troika crisis is hopefully resolved, and Berri road to Baabda is safe and open. The attaches will not have diplomatic status and will be redistributed on missions abroad. News reports said the solution which hopefully sorted out differences among the troika members, came prior to parliament debate today and tomorrow, which will be exclusively centering on questions and responds of MPs and not on a vote of confidence.

Assad-Boueiz; Peace Impasse and Dangers In sight

- Lebanon foreign minister Fares Boueiz held talks in Damascus yesterday with Syrian counterpart Farouk Sharaa. Boueiz was received by Syrian president Hafez Assad for four hours. Syrian presidency spokesman said the talks centered on the latest regional developments, and the underway contacts of the two countries on the Israel deadlocks which face the ME peace process. News reports said the talks also dealt with the dangers facing Lebanon and Syria and the Turkish military dragnet in Iraq. The Lebanese foreign minister declared saying "it is evident that Israel's premier Netanyahu who blew the ME peace process is now trying to export his internal problems". Boueiz said "some of Turkey's internal problems signal that it will move on to external fronts".

- Lebanon's council of ministers at its meeting yesterday denounced the Turkish aggression against Iraqi lands and warned of the consequences that will follow as it endangers the pan Arab security and the Turkish Arab relations.

- Iran's new president Mohammed Khatimi in first press conference since his  election said "The Islamic Republic of Iran is opposing the ME peace process but it will not take any measure to undermine it. He said he expects no change in his country's relation with the USA".

Syrian-Christians Dialogue

- The sweeping reports and speculations on Syrian Christians dialogue and the possible rapid positive developments is now under spot lights. The speculations go far expecting even a sudden visit by Bashar Assad to Bkerke topping the dialogue. The Maronite president has distanced himself of this dialogue but definitely he is concerned. Hrawi circles question the backgrounds of such dialogue, its merit and objectives. The circles question too if a new page between Syria and the Christians would mean a Syrian admit of malpractice of Taif and imbalance rule, and consequently if Syria views that the ruling Christians now are not representing the community. Another question is raised on Syria's readiness to have dialogue with Christian opposition leaders or it regards the Patriarch as the only exclusive dialogue, after the Pope visit consecrated him an unchallenged spokesman for the Christians. Analysts said Syria categorically rejected any meeting or dialogue, direct or indirect, with magnets of the Christian opposition leadership.

Patriarch Sfair- Detainees in Syria

- Patriarch Sfair, speaking yesterday to a delegation representing families of Lebanese detainees in Syria, said he is "hopeful to know whereabouts of those people who were missed at a specific time and no one knew anything about them since then". He said he has learned that a list was submitted to authorities out of Lebanon and hopefully it will bring the required result.

He said "we are looking to have a state of law and dealing with people according to the law, also the state dealing with other states according to law too, something is not practiced yet, but hopefully it will be, so that we can know something about them.

-Douri Chamoun declared after a meeting with the Patriarch that his visit is ordinary and nothing special. He said nothing is improving in Lebanon and the economical situation is the worst since 4 or 5 years. Asked about the Syrian Christian rapprochement, Chamoun said he cannot understand what is going on, as they speak over rapprochement but reasons of the split off are still existing. He said the reasons are namely the Syrian presence which should have been lessened since three years but it is same as before, second the disrespect of independence and sovereignty which is a basic issue.

Chamoun said his party definitely will not participate in the upcoming by elections as reasons of the past boycott are still valid. He said the boycott was due to disagreeing on the election law and nothing changed since then. Chamoun said the individual constituency is better than one constituency for all Lebanon. He said he can't believe anymore anything about funding the displaced repatriation unless money starts to be fairly distributed.

Lebanese Emigrants Dilemma, Now Freetown

- Lebanese officials are following up the developments in Freetown in Searraleone after the military coup there and the tragic killing of two Lebanese also looting Lebanese properties. The Lebanese foreign ministry said the situation in Freetown is vague, but local radio there announced the reopening of the airport, and three ships are sailing to Freetown including one under UN supervision. The ministry said it is calling influential parties such as Nigeria and Ghana which have peace keepers there, and with UK in order to ensure security of the Lebanese, or perhaps provide escort to those wishing to depart. Commander of the Nigerian peacekeeping force told Lebanese ambassador in Lagos that the embassies zone in Freetown is now under the protection of the Nigerian peace keepers who are providing protection for Lebanese taking shelter in their embassy. The Lebanese ambassador in Lagos was told that more Nigerian peace keepers are to land in Freetown as it is assigned to restore order and security as before the coup and the mission will be accomplished next week. The Lebanese emigrants ministry said an MEA plane will fly today to Searraleone to evacuate women, patients, dependents, and wounded persons as top priority. The Senegalese envoy who is in Beirut now called president of Senegal which is contributing in the peace keeping in Searraleone and reported the hardships facing the Lebanese. Senegal president instructed his ambassador in Freetown to extend every possible help to the Lebanese there.

- How to repair the Lebanese image in Africa, a leading report said today. The report quoted Lebanese ambassador in Freetown Mohammed Deeb responding to tele Liban phone interview saying "there was a sort of an attempt to invade the Lebanese embassy in Freetown, but we could manage with some money". The report called the Lebanese government to deal with the phenomenon of hostility against Lebanese in the African states. It said in the case of Freetown, there were certainly some Lebanese backers in the shadow behind each coup, and sometime a coup would put aside a Lebanese influential emigrant to bring in another Lebanese in another coup. The report said in the Ivory coast or Senegal there are successful experience and good relation with the Lebanese emigrants, but who will be sure about the emigrants future in Ghabon, Guinea, or even some of Nigeria's provinces.

News In Brief

- MP Nassib Lahoud said interior minister Michel Murr, who was the mostly involved in violations and malpractices in the last general elections, is trying to make himself innocent and now reversing the Constitutional Council's ruling to figure it a certificate of good conduct in the worst ever elections in the history of Lebanon. Lahoud demanded that Murr should either resign himself or be ousted.

- The National Grouping including NLP party, Gen. Aoun loyalists, and Kataeb opposition, considered the proposal on all Lebanon as one constituency " a continuation of the scheme of consolidating the de facto situation that will lead to consecrate the one color rule system". The grouping said that judging three elections that took place in Iran, France, and the UK, proves that a large scale change could be possible with democratic methods, whatever the time it takes, whatever the authority agencies practices diversify, but on the condition that the voters have the chance of free choice under a just election law. The grouping statement also said that it is possible the proposal aims at rejecting the spirit of the apostolic guidance which called for maintaining the confessional and cultural diversity of the Lebanese society.

- The Lebanese Communist party said the enlarged constituency proposal by prime minister Hariri will be smashing a balanced representation. Former Premier Selim Hoss said the proposal of all Lebanon one constituency will not be right thing unless it is parallel to a proportional parliamentary representation system, which without it a simple majority will monopolize representation and nullify all others. The PSP party said the proposal prompts abolishment of the confessional system, a proportional system, and the existence of political parties law replacing the old law dated back to 1909.

- Armenian MPs bloc expressed extreme worry of the Turkish-Israeli accord and the aggression against the Iraqi lands, considering it has dangerous objectives toward the Arab neighboring countries. The Armenian bloc reminded of the government decision to close the Bourj Hammoud dump by the end of May and as the time is nearing it regrets the government delay. The bloc discussed series of measures and moves it will take in case the the dump case will not be resolved in coming days.

- Hizbullah parliament bloc Al Wafaa expressed worry of the situation facing the Lebanese emigrants in Freetown and urged the government to take rapid actions to ensure the Lebanese emigrants safety and security in the black continent. On the regional issues, the bloc hailed the Syrian pioneering role confronting the capitulation and surrender, assailing the Jordanian government oppressive policy, and denounced the Turkish invasion of north Iraq which is the result of USA-Israel alliance.

CNN Is Back

The American CNN network in a statement issued May 27 announced the reopening of its Beirut office which will be under British journalist Brent Sadler. The CNN office in Beirut was closed 12 years ago after the kidnap of its then executive official. The statement said Beirut office represents a unique challenge, because of the US travel ban on Lebanon imposed by the US government on nationals of the USA, including the journalists, and because the US government believes that Lebanon is dangerous to the US nationals.

The statement said because of the ban the CNN office will be run by non American staff. The statement said chairman of the network announced that Beirut office will be committed to convey more largely and deeply events in the Arab region . The CNN deputy director of news said the network is looking to Beirut as a strong and solid news base and the experience of Sadler in covering the region's events will serve the network and its viewers. Prime minister Rafic Hariri said the move is very good and positive and a signal of trust in Lebanon, expressing the hope that all international firms and media agencies come back to Lebanon. Asked if the move signals lift of the travel ban, Hariri said" I can't judge but undoubtedly it is a very positive step". Information minister Bassem Sabbaa said such media move is useful to Lebanon and it is another testimony on the media role of the Lebanese capital. Economy minister Yassine Jaber said the CNN return to Beirut is in line with the return of other firms, some American firms already reopened its offices directly or through agents, such as the CityBank.

-On other hand, the Lebanese authority is contacting the head office of AFP in Paris urging return of its regional office, now in Nicosia, back to Beirut. The AFP is reluctant to respond in view of its experiences in Beirut, and its officials want assurances on highest levels that the agency function and its journalists will work freely and not posed to any harassment. Prime minister Hariri is one of the leading officials working for the return of the AFP.

South Lebanon

- Lebanese fishermen in Tyre staged a sit in protest at the Maronite seat in the Tyre protesting the Israeli practices including opening fire during night at their fishing boats also cutting their nets. The Israeli navy prohibited fishing along the coast south of Tyre forcing them to fish northward where fish is very little.

- Islamic resistance said it monitored an Israeli force near the outpost of Tallouseh and opened fire at the force inflicting casualties and direct hits. Amal movement said its units inside the security zone could capture one of the collaborators with Israel from his village Al Kassir, and succeeded to bring him out of the occupied sector.

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