News from Beirut July 28 1997 ...Search


-3,000 to 5,000 estimated people attended Sunday at Mayrouba town the popular meeting that was architected by Kesrouan MP Rshayd el Khazen to protest the government's ignorance to demands of the region. Four Mps of Kesrouan did not attend but the foreign minister Fares Boueiz was represented. Khazen suggested to form a follow up committee and to give the government a deadline to respond to the demands, otherwise, a civil disobedience will be staged. He stated that the region is with the law but it wants demands to be met. He called all Lebanese politicians out of the country to come back and share in the political life "even if need to sacrifice by going to jail". Khazen called for an end to the displaced file and for the return of immigrants. He reiterated demands concerning Kesrouan, including the employment at Casino du Liban, where only 56 are from Kesrouan out of the total employees of 1,400. He warned the government that quarries in the region will resume operations, since it is employing more than 4,300 people and the government gave no alternative location.

-Foreign minister Fares Boueiz, who was represented at Mayrouba protest meeting and who continues his official visit to Vienna, said the protest reflected a national error on both political and economical levels. Boueiz said most of the projects of Kesrouan are pending or obstructed at the government or the parliament, something justified such a protest meeting. He said gambling on the point that some people go to the street and have loud voice, and some others do not and refrain to do so, is wrong, when hardships prevails allover the country, and when the malpractice becomes a principle. Boueiz, commenting on the prime miniser's remark at a T.V interview saying "who oppose him in fact oppose Syria”, said the prime minister admitted the budget deficit and the economical problem, so why his loyalists defended saying the world is so fine, at a time the prime minister said contrary to that. Boueiz said the prime minister should realize tat linkage between Syria and Lebanon's domestic affair is serious, because it will result a feeling among the people blaming Syria even for the economical hardships. Boueiz said we should not seek a shield that should not be used at all , meaning Syrian shield.

-Sheikh Subhi Tufeili at a weekend meeting in Zahle village Jlala said "what was released during the ideas forum that was held last week was horrible figures. He said it is not true that the country is doing well because in fact it is going to a catastrophe". He said mentality of the government is the mentality that see nothing else than the projects in the capital Beirut, while other regions are out of concern. He criticized the "classical" opposition that is satisfied with only periodical statement . At another meeting he said the solution of the piles of garbage in the suburbs of Beirut is to take it to the officials' houses to embarrass them perhaps they would look into a way out or solution.

-Hizbullah MP Ammar Mussawi criticized Sunday the arrangements for Baalbek festival accusing the committee in charge, which he said is too old from the past, of harming the Baalbek people's feeling. He claimed that Baalbek municipality and the social cultural figures of the town were ignored and disregarded. He said even the catering and transportation were by companies that came out of the region, "as if the festival passed by in Baalbek".

-The National Syrian Socialist Party NSSP celebrated Sunday at the Chuf town Ain Wazain the 15th anniversary of the national resistance front. Ministers Walid Jumblat, Assaad Hardan and Elias Hanna also MPs and dignitaries attended the event. The NSSP leader Ali Qansou said the displaced file is a national priority file, it is a one of the country's unity cornerstones, and funds should be ensured for their return today before tomorrow. Qansou said also that its natural for the socioeconomic hardships to ignite popular moves that have spread over from one place to another. He said the rhetoric saying the country is going well is not convincing anyone. He said he is afraid the country is going to further poverty and in favor of a privatization for which the ground is being paved for it.

-The "Environment and Music" festival organized by Nahar Shabab magazine and Greenpeace on Saturday at the new port at Dbayeh was an event that has attracted some 20,000 people, mostly young and friends to nature and music. The enthusiastic youths came from various regions in the country to share in the event and speak loudly against damaging the nature of Lebanon. The festival took place at a time garbage piles in the suburbs of Beirut are still increasing. Today's meeting under deputy prime minister Michel Murr, environment minister, and Mps and governor of mount Lebanon is said to be decisive. An interim location was fixed near Amrousieh to receive garbage.

-Metn Mp Nassib Lahoud, commenting on the government admittance that the budget deficit and public debt are mother of the problems, said the government as its going on, with its wrong policy, will aggravate the crisis and makes solutions more difficult to find. Lahoud asked to speed up of the formation of the national socioeconomic council, with transparent and subjective criteria of the members who will be chosen. He said the government's innocent argument about who has a different solution of debt and deficit is not convincing anyone.

-News reports said the interior minister Michele Murr is going to suggest at the first next government meeting a certain legal concept that aims to prosecute all those calling for "revolutions" or "popular moves", or others who are calling for civil disobedience. Murr said at a rally on Sunday that "revolutions" became a fashion, moving from one place to another, but the government has endeavor to its citizens and will not allow disturbing the security under any pretext. The Lebanese opposition media said this is the kind of response that the government is going to adopt to face the people's demands. It also said that few days ago the government ordered closure and halt of all non licensed media audiovisual stations, which could find no space among other loyal stations. The Lebanese government will not hold this week's regular meeting, despite the pressing socioeconomic issues and crisis.

South Lebanon, More violence and More complaints

-Lebanon has filed a new complaint to the five nation cease-fire monitoring committee after a Lebanese civilian woman was wounded in the Israeli artillery shelling Saturday on Sohomor that struck also areas in west Bekaa. The Security situation has deteriorated over the weekend on south Lebanon and west Bekaa's axis. The Islamic resistance launched more than 12 attack against targets inside the security zone, using at some stages the Katyusha rockets and Sagre missiles. The SLA radio station Voice of South said one SLA man and a civilian woman were wounded. Israel and SLA's artillery retaliatory shelling covered outskirts of villages in west Bekaa, and the central and middle sectors. The Israeli warplanes flew over Nabatieh and Iqlim Toffah staging mock raids, also flew Sunday over Baalbek and Beirut.

-10,000 post card demanding release of Lebanese captive Suha Beshara from the Israeli concentration camp of Khiam were distributed by the Canadian Francophone branch of the International Amnesty Organization. The initiative was timed with the 14th July "day of the captive". The Canadian branch is campaigning for the release of 200 detainee at the Khiam prison.


-House speaker Nabih Berri received Sunday Brazil's counterpart and Lebanese origin speaker Michel Tamer who is visiting his homecountry for several days with a parliamentary delegation of Brazilian MPs of Lebanese origin. Mr. Berri said he is welcoming Tamer as a Lebanese citizen, a Brazilian prominent legislator and lawmaker, and as a speaker of the Brazilian parliament. Mr. Tamer said he wished speaker Berri to visit Brazil once again, and President Elias Hrawi will respond to the invitation and visit Brazil, after the president of Brazil visits Lebanon in April. Speaker Berri received same day his Jordanian counterpart Saad Hayel Srour, accompanied by a Jordanian parliamentary delegation. Srour said the visit aims to pursue talks on the Arab common cases including the Arab common market, the peace process, the reconstruction and south Lebanon's affair.

-Prime minister Rafic Hariri, now spending a holiday on his yacht in Sardenia, said at the end of his visit to Greece on Friday, that the trade balance deficit between two countries will be decreased. He said Lebanon's imports from Greece amounted $200mn annual. Hariri extended an invitation to Greek counterpart to visit Lebanon.

-The Maronite bishop of Beirut Boulos Mattar inaugurating a church at Kfarimay in Aley region said the Christian church will move on in the mountain area with its schools, hospitals, institutions and societies, because the church existence there should not be material but also to build human life. Bishop Mattar said "we do not want the mountain to be dissociated from other regions in Lebanon because there in the mountain the united Lebanon has been established.”

-The Maronite League is coordinating with Jezzine dignitaries and MPs to urge the government to take immediate measures on Jezzine. The league, after an extra meeting under its president Pierre Helou, said Jezzine people are before an imminent exodus if the situation in the region is not dealt with on national, regional and international level.

-Leader of the National Bloc party Raymond Edde from Paris urged his party affiliates to be proud "because the party, thanks to its friends, could mark lately a great election victory at a first time democratic atmosphere". He was referring to Emile Nawfal who won the last recent provisional by election .Mr. Edde was addressing his party's annual dinner that was held Sunday at Innaya. He said the affiliates should be proud because the party is purely Lebanese. Nawfal described Edde as a hero and leader of the revolution for freedom, democracy, justice and free sovereign Lebanon.

-Lebanon opposition group the national parliamentary meeting including former premier Selim Hoss and Omar Karami, former speaker Hussein Husseini, and MPs Boutros Harb, Nassib Lahoud and M.Baydoun are expected to discuss today a challenge appeal before the constitutional council against the law that extended term in office of Lebanon's municipal and mayoral councils until the year 1999.

-Lebanese leading daily said Syria has recently allowed its citizens to go to Iraq via the border land crossings in a significant step that reflected the ongoing openness between the two Arab countries. Photos of both president Assad of Syria and Saddam Hussein of Iraq were together hanged same place at the Syrian medicines companies exhibition in Baghdad. A Number of Syrian citizens already started to go to Baghdad via the border point of BouKamal which is 560 km north east of Damascus. There are no restrictions other than the approval of "one specific security side", in addition to a passport that did not bear "except Iraq" and which is replaced by another passport that bears "all Arab countries". In another development, the Iraqi nationals are now allowed to come to Syria via land too, instead of the former Jordanian outlet. The restrictions to enter Syria include a prior approval of a security agency in Syria which can be obtained by relatives or friends residing in Syria. Discussions are underway to find an alternative and less complicated travel permission. Every Syrian traveler to Iraq is allowed to have $6,000 worth of accompanied luggage or goods. With a high number of Syrian travelers to Iraq, the Iraqi economy would be regenerated better than the "food for oil" formula. Syrian merchants entry to Iraq is under different mechanism including namely a list and table of names prepared by the Syrian chambers of commerce.

-Algerian former president Ahmad bin Bella was the distinguished guest at north Lebanon over the week end. He visited the Cedars, Jibbet Bsherri, Diman, Anfa and Tripoli. North MP Kabalan Issas el Khoury said his presence in Lebanon is a signal on the confidence in Lebanon and its future. Patriarch Sfair described him as a symbol due to his struggle and Jihad. Omar Karami described him as a symbol of the Algerian revolution. Bin Bella himself said who do not visit north Lebanon has never visited Lebanon. He also said that Lebanon has become an honor medal of all the Arabs thanks to confronting Israel. He hoped Algeria would wake up from the dormancy of fundamentalism and preferred to speak about the future not the past.

-Lebanon's audiovisual media stations that were not granted licenses finally surrendered to the government decision to close down and halted its broadcasts saying "we won't say goodbye .. but hope to see you soon". At the Meantime, a new radio station run by the Dar el Fatwa under Mufti Mohammed Rashid Kabbani started to broadcast under the name "Voice of the Koran" after being granted license.

The Eighth Pan Arab Games

-Egypt emerged a great winner of the Pan Arab Games that ended July 27 with 194 medals including 97 golden. Lebanon's education minister Jean Obeid handed the games flag to Jordanian minister of youths who's country will host the coming 9th games. Jordan was the last Arab team to score a golden medal at the final day of the games after beating Syrians with 1-0 before 20,000 audience at the Sports City in Beirut. This is Jordan's first time to rank champion of the Arab football games in the history of the Arab Games that started 1953 in Alexandria. Jordan won the golden medal of the sport, Syria ranked second with silver medal and Lebanon ranked third with bronze medal. Once again, the Syrian audience at the football game damaged seats and threw objects to the field as angered by the result.

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