News from Beirut May 9 1997 ...Search

The Pope's Visit

-News Reports said the apostolic guidance which will be signed by his pontiff Saturday evening at Harissa is written in French, English, and Arabic. It will be distributed after being signed by his pontiff.

- Vatican foreign minister Mner Jean Louis Tauran, who had been a papal nuncio in Lebanon from1979 to 1983, told news agency "the Vatican was and still keen to defend the special form of Lebanon's constitutional institutions represented in a democracy, where all members of the Muslim and Christian communities enjoy same rights and obligations". Tauran also said "Lebanon is the Arab sole country where all citizens are regarded equal, and freedom of expression, thought, and gathering with respect to all cultures is the core of the Lebanese formula, which should remain source of inspiration for the present and future of Lebanon". He concluded saying "the Pope's concern over Lebanon is due to three reasons including the danger of rooting out Lebanon, something endangered the country for long time, the privacy of its constitutional institutions, and the fruitful coexistence between religious communities existing on its land". He ended saying many Popes and their aides had defended consistently independence and sovereignty of Lebanon, also respect of its borders, and the political, social, and administrative system.

-Preparations for the 36 hour visit were already finalized, including arrangements on the 6 stations of the visit starting at the airport. The public was notified today of roads which will be cut, the gathering points, transport free of charge means including the public bus service. A 17 Km drive in the Popemobile will follow the airport reception after which his pontiff will go to Baabda palace and from there to Bkerke on helicopter.

Another 20 Km road from Jounieh stadium to Beirut seaport where a sermon will be held Sunday is to be the longest drive.

-Presidency press advisor May Kahale at a meeting with press reporters said the Pope distinguished Lebanon by his one visit to one state, and that he will be received officially and by the people as head of the Vatican state.

She said its the 77th visit by his pontiff out of Italy, and Lebanon will be the 121 state he is visiting, aside his visits to world organizations and commissions. Kahale said the visit will last 31 hour and 15 minute. Director of the Catholic information center father Antoine Gemayel and father Jean el Hashem said the popemobile has been extended by Mexique during 1981 visit of the Pope after attempting to assassinate him in the Vatican.

-Solidere announced it has completed works on the reclaimed land where the sermon will be held Sunday. The company statement said the works started mid April involved some 12 engineers, 40 technicians, and 200 labors.

-Al Awda magazine issued by the ministry for the displaced, in a special edition this week in the occasion of the visit, carried statistic tables on number of those repatriated, and phases of reconstruction, showing that more than 40 per cent of those agreed to rebuild their houses and paid first payments did not invest the money in the specific goals.

-Lebanese newspapers will be on news stands Sunday extraordinarily despite holiday in order to cover his pontiff's visit.

-Druze community call for accelerating extending invitation to acting Sheikh Akel Bahjat Ghaith to the official reception at the airport "before its too late" in order to correct the harm directed at the community.

-More memos handed to papal nuncio to convey to his pontiff including memo of the NSSP party, another by the Palestinian DFLP group placing over the living conditions of the Palestinians in Lebanon and decline of the Unrwa services. A memo by parents of the Lebanese detainees in Israeli jails asked his pontiff to exert pressures aimed at their release.

-Sawt el Mahabba radio station in Lebanon and the Vatican radio are coordinating an Arabic broadcast service directed to the M.E. as of Sunday.

News In Brief

- The Islamic Resistance said its men attacked May 8 the SLA post at Bir Kallab and shelled the post of Kassaret el Ouroush making direct hits.SLA sources said an Israeli patrol came under an artillery attack May 8 at 3.00 p.m. at Rihan in Jezzine area, also the outpost of Ghozlan came under shelling. At 4.10 p.m., the SLA post at Qantara came under shelling from the opposite Majdel Selim. The Islamic resistance announced martyrdom of Mohammed Jawhari during a clash at Qantara on May 6.

-   President hrawi expressed relaxation to the preparations for the visit of the Pope. He was quoted welcoming to receive speaker Berri anytime. Hrawi quoted saying that representation of the Druze community in the Baabda palace reception was upon requests of the community authorities who named Sheikh Mercel Nasr as representative. Nasr is the head of the Druze spiritual appeal court. Minister of the emigrants Talal Arsalan reserved the move of not inviting acting Sheikh Akel to the reception, according to information minister Bassem Sabbaa. The issue of emigrants attaches was not settled and has been refered to the Shura Council.

- Speaker Nabih Berri is scheduled to leave Sunday to Cairo, after farewell to his pontiff, to attend the Arab Parliamentary Conference. Lebanon's proposal on Arab common market is among the topics on the agenda.

- Lebanon Constitutional Council did not meet officially May 8 for the absence of three of its members.

- Opposition figure Albert Mukheiber called the Constitutional Council to look into the general elections in the UK and compare it with the elections in Lebanon so that they will reach the fact that the latter is ridiculous and void.

- Chuf and Aley MPs questioned the government backgrounds of its decision to evict displaced according to court rulings, contrary to an earlier decision charging the ministry of displaced evicting the displaced but after compensations and alternatives.

-Parliament committee on budget and finance endorsed payment of L.L76bn to the ministry of health to settle due debts to the private hospitals, also endorsed a $6mn to the ministry of agriculture to purchase 3,000 dairy milk cows and distribute it on farmers in all regions excluding the capital Beirut.

- Former prime minister Selim Hoss questioned the government reasons behind delaying the expansion project of Beirut Int. Airport and reasons of the increasing costs.

- French new ambassador in courtesy visits to patriarch Sfair, interior minister Michel Murr, and deputy speaker Elie Firzli, said he hopes the Pope visit would be an occasion to enhance national unity in Lebanon.

- Zahle MP Elie Skaff said after a visit to Muslim Mufti Mohammed Rashid Kabbani he hopes the Pope visit would be a return of Lebanon to the world political and economical map, but at the sametime we should realize the Israeli schemes.

Sports Round Up

- Arab 18th Golf Championship was opened may 8 under auspices of prime minister Rafic Hariri at Ouzai. Delegations from 12 Arab country are participating in the tournament. Head of the Lebanese Gold federation Selim Salam said the championship coincide with the 75 anniversary of the history of the Gold in Lebanon. Premier Hariri said today is the Golf championship, on 12th July the Arab Sports Tournament-2, in the year 2,000 the Asian tournament, and hopefully in the year 2001 Lebanon will be hosting the Francofone sports tournament. He said these sports tournament would not have taken place without efforts of the sports officials and effort of the government which believes in the importance of sports and its will to build sports facilities. he called the Arabs to contribute and support Lebanon's rebuilding of its sports facilities.

-Following loss before Kuwait May 8, Lebanon is out of the competition for the world cup finals.

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