News from Beirut June 4 1997 ...Search

- Syrian Officials Visit To Lebanon

- Prime minister Rafic Hariri continues shuttling between president Elias Hrawi and speaker of the house Nabih Berri, on verge of Thursday visit of Syrian V.P Mr. Abdel Halim Khaddam and foreign minister Farouk Sharaa. News reports said the shuttle diplomacy would be aimed to sort out differences between the two senior officials before the visit so that it would be an occasion to concile the two officials. The two Syrian officials delay was due to their current Arab tour according to reports. Hariri visited the speaker June 3 evening and refrained to respond to question on the outcome of the last quarter hour effort. Mr. Berri circles said the road to Baabda is not yet open, he maintains the same stand, since the issue of emigrants attaches is not resolved yet. The circles accused foreign minister Fares Boueiz of undermining the solution, because of his insistence on issuing special non diplomatic passports as it was agreed upon. The case will be placed over the government session today.

- Some other issues are highlighted today including a new election law proposed by Mr. Hariri, which its detailed mechanism is not yet clear. Today's session of the council of ministers would form a ministerial committee to see to the proposed law.

GLC Abu Rizk Case- New developments

- Judge Abdallah Bitar today repelled a request to release Elias abu Rizk, instead he was additionally charged of circulating false news against government including rigging elections, bribing voters, and wasting public money, also damaging the state image abroad. The law stipulation stated 6 month jail for the charge and a fine of 100 thousand to 1 million L.L. GLC former secretary general Yasser Neemeh was also arrested today, and another GLC syndicate leader Elias Habre is to be summoned to investigations. Neemeh and Abu Rizk both were investigated by judge Bitar today. They did not name persons or parties who threatened their liquidation. They submitted evidences on their claim of receiving threats of physical liquidation but the judicial authority said it were merely clips of newspapers. The judicial ruling today after the preliminary investigations seen assertive and firm. The case is gaining more political and popular concern.

-The government recognized GLC faction under Ghoneim Zoghbi was recognized today as sole representative of the Lebanese GLC at Geneva conference of the World Labor Organization WLO, according to the state run Tele Liban this evening. Zoghbi said the recognition stems from allowing the GLC faction to attend the organization's committee meetings. Zoghbi reiterated that the GLC elections in Lebanon was democratic and legal. He said the door is still open to Abu Rizk.

- In Tripoli-north Lebanon, five out of the eight members of the GLC union in north issued a statement supporting Elias Abu Rizk, despite objection of the head of the regional union.

- Tele Liban employees syndicate at a meeting today authorized its executive board to take all necessary steps in support of Abu Rizk who presided the employees syndicate for long time.

Council of Ministers- Decisions

- Lebanon council of ministers session which started 6.00 p.m. today is to discuss 65 topic, and out of agenda topics including a proposed election law, appointment of 14 LU deans, passports for the emigrants attaches, and the GLC issue. A tit bit today said the yearly cost of appointing the attaches will amount L.L5 bn.

Israel-South Lebanon

- Israel is accused today of 4 blasts explosion today in a civil truck at Qilya-Zillaya in west Bekaa in which one Lebanese civilian was killed and another wounded. The Lebanese army is to supply the foreign ministry of photos of the explosion scene so that a formal complaint to the cease-fire monitoring committee is to be lodged by Lebanon. Hizbullah said the blasts explosion today is a blunt breach and violation of the last year's April understanding. The Islamic resistance launched today attacks against the SLA outposts at Kassir and Toumat Niha inflicting certain casualties in the Israeli ranks.

- On June 3, The SLA claimed its posts at Houla and Qantara came under mortar fire. The Islamic resistance said its attacks targeted also el Kassir-Alman. Israeli and SLA artillery pounded the idle sector and hills in Iqlim Toffah. Residents of Yohmor village staged a sit in Nabatieh in protest of the Israeli and SLA practices against the village residents including detentions and harassment.

- Ambassador of Japan opened a medical center donated by his country to the Palestinian camp of Burj Chemali. The center includes a pharmacy, dentistry clinic, lab, and a medical clinic. The ambassador said the center is a token friendship gesture by his country.

House Speaker- Visit to Baabda

- House speaker Nabih Berri, perhaps jokingly, told reporters today he visited Baabda palace once or twice since the telephones tapping has been affirmed. He was quoted supporting a new election law and giving it enough time of discussion so that the voters are not surprised when called to elect. He said he is with the principle of all Lebanon one electorate but with enough considerations to regions and minorities. News reports said a proportional system would not be adopted unless a time Lebanon confessional system is reviewed. Berri quoted opposing cancellation of the national military service because this service has helped national cohesiveness and merger same as the Lebanese university did. He reiterated that the judiciary should be above all considerations. He supported a 20 per cent pay rise to the public sector if the new scale of salaries are not passed for the time being.


- The national airliner MEA air bridge between Konakri and Beirut continues to airlift Lebanese who could be evacuated from the troubled Freetown. An MEA jumbo airlifted some 486 Lebanese from Konakri to Beirut. Its the third batch of Lebanese evacuees from Sierraleone. A fourth batch will arrive today.

Raymond Edde- Customs unity

- Lebanon's NLP party leader Raymond Edde in an open letter to prime minister Hariri from his Paris residence said "each custom unity with a state or several states leads to political unity". Edde said he read a statement by transport minister Omar Miskawi published June 2 in which he proposed custom unity with Syria same as it was in the early French mandate time. He said he wants to inform the prime minister, in the capacity of leader of the NLP party, of his opposition to this serious recommendation, "because it is certain since long time that each custom unity with a state or several states, leads to political unity". Edde reminded of the precedent of the 1834 Zollverein German custom unity, which first included the German states and ended with the German unity. Edde, addressing the prime minister, said "I am definitely sure you will not accept touching the unity, independence, and sovereignty of Lebanon".

Opposition Views

- The National meeting composed of Lebanon opposition magnets including Husseini, Hoss, Karami, N.Lahoud, B.Harb. M.Beydoun, said the prime minister Hariri's proposed election law contradicts with the national entente chart and surmount it. It said that the proposed one electorate for all Lebanon won't be proper unless it goes parallel with a proportional system. The meeting called for the immediate release of Elias Abu Rizk and held the executive power responsibility of the prevailing situation and the impasse that resulted.

- Former Premier Selim Hoss, clearing the implications that were reported during the last parliament debate, said "my relation with prime minister Hariri is not on the account of my parliamentary obligations". Hoss said he did not ask the prime minister to give oath on committing to the constitution and law as it was circulated, but asked only giving the parliament an assurance that the violation, subject of his inquiry, won't be repeated.

- Ex president Charles Hello after a visit to former prime minister Saeb Salam said the present situation is not comfortable and there are many difficulties. He said there are some simple issues that is not correct. On the arrest of Abu Rizk, Helou said such issues are disliked and there things happening and we stand silent toward it. Helou concluded that despite all what is going on he is still optimistic on the situation of Lebanon.

- Albert Mukheiber, signaling that the opposition is shifting now to offense instead of defense and its plurality and diversity is a richness, said at a press conference that Syria has intervened in the parliamentary elections through the interior minister Michel Murr. He said "Lebanon is not even enjoying the self rule which had run the country during the Ottoman rule, the mutasarifiya and bab el ali. He described the interior minister of being"Sultan of the time". Mukheiber said he thinks the jurist Wajdi Mallat resignation did save the honor of the judiciary. On the arrest of Abu Rizk, he said we are entering a police rule system. Mukheiber said he is in favor of participating in the by elections despite all internal and external interventions.

- The National Gathering under Douri Chamoun accused the authority of restricting freedoms, limiting its sphere, curving the democracy, and rigging and sabotaging the democracy's practice. The gathering introduced the French recent elections as an extreme democratic practice, and recalled that the result of the poll was announced after less than an hour of closing the polling offices. The gathering said the talk on available amounts for the repatriation of the displaced, now giving the figure of $100mn, is in fact an insufficient amount if it is true. The gathering said however, there should be a timetable which ensures that the file will be closed, regarding it a top priority, avert courtesies and stalemates, and consider the human principles that prohibits trading the displaced or turning them to a hostage of financial accounts.

- Former MPs league denounced the arrest of Elias Abu Rizk and called for halting the telephones tapping.

News In Brief

- Information minister Bassem Sabbaa received CNN Beirut office director who informed the minister of the decision to reopen as of 17th July.

- Druze sheikh Akl Bahjat Ghaith met in Damascus the Syrian people's house speaker Abdel Qader Qaddoura and other Syrian officials.

- News reports said the National Syrian Socialist party NSSP and the Islamic Society (Jamaa Islamiya) candidates will compete for the Sunni seat in north Lebanon by elections.

- Iranian deputy culture minister Mohammed Ali Taskhiri accompanied by Iranian ambassador and delegation members visited June 3 president Elias Hrawi, Bishop Elias Audi, Druze sheikh Akl, and Imam Mohammed Mehdi Shamseddine. Responding to reporters Taskhiri said "Since the beginning, we were affirming the necessity to establish relations between the Islamic state of Iran and the west, the west in my opinion was not faithful in right form to such relations, and in my opinion it will return to normal". At Hikmeh university, Taskhiri lectured on Christianity and Islam. He said "dialogue between religions was blacked out beneath layers of narrow concepts, fanaticism, and the claim of monopolizing the truths, something deprived the humanity of so much givings". He said " Koran is placing special respect to the teachings of Jesus Christ and many of the Islamic texts stem his teachings". He said dialogue between Islam and Christianity is not old and its present form is tantamount to innovation". Taskhiri said "averting talking on the ethical values which both religions believe in foiled all attempts of dialogue". He called for a dialogue that is conducted by an institute in order to avert its being frequent or interrupted. He called for a religious authority that "coordinate both religions stands, smash both religions historical backgrounds and put it aside." He said he is proud to meet in Lebanon leaders of churches who are open to dialogue with other religions. He said the Christians in Iran have freedom of worshipping, their churches are open, and have five deputies in the Iranian parliament.

- Palestinian alliance forces staged solidarity meeting with Syria against the Turkish-Israeli alliance at Lebanon journalists Association office in Beirut. Speakers included representatives of the NSSP, Tashknak, Kataeb, Kurdistan national liberation front, PFLP, and MPs Zaher el Khatib and Ali Khalil.

- State ministry for administrative reform is putting into effect a plan to provide various public administrations with 500 computers, in a bid to renovate, modernize also mechanize it. A ministerial committee under premier Hariri is in charge of steady constant review of modernization.

- Hizbullah former S.G Subhi Tufeili reiterated that the "revolt of the starved" will throw stones of the officials' palaces into sea if the state does not respond to outcries of the starved. He said in a tour on villages in Bekaa "the accumulating public debts are not beneficent to the people". Tufeili said "we have no state, and instead we have a company of a group of feudal and capitalists ".

-The PSP party under minister Walid Jumblat, in a significant shift, said it values high the Lebanese army command efforts aimed at consecrating and consolidating the Arab affiliation of the army.

-Lebanon's two national airliners the MEA and TMA signed a memo of comprehension aimed to coordinate their work to face competition of other airliners. The two companies officials denied it is a step on the way to merger.

Sports Round Up

- The committee in charge of the Arab 8th sports tournament signed June 3 one of the sponsorship agreements with the Japanese Matsushita electronics producers of Panasonic.

- Lebanon national football team players were granted L.L1mn each by the football federation committee as a financial award for their efforts and commitments resulted in winning the match with Singapore.

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