News from Beirut August 26  1997 ...Search

Government Reshuffle

-Circulated news on a government reshuffle in Lebanon tensed the situation. President Elias Hrawi and the house speaker Nabih Berri denied the news.

Prime minister Hariri is accused of trying to "market" the idea in Syria and change some of his cabinet members, but Hrawi and Berri refused the unilateral change of their loyal ministers and demanded the change to include Hariri loyalist ministers. Among Hariri loyalist ministers the justice minister Bahij Tabbarra, state minister for finance Fouad Seniora and the portfolio of P.T.T which is run by Hariri himself. Hariri was quoted saying third of his cabinet ministers are qualified, another third is not qualified and the last third is not trusted by the people.

Mr. Hariri denied he said so and said "they won't succeed to shake my relation with the ministers and with Damascus". Lebanese senior officials in general denied the change saying the situation in the country is delicate especially in view of the tension in the south and the open wound there.

Meanwhile, most of the officials admit that the cabinet situation is not anymore tolerable and the ministers insolidarity is aggravating the situation. Premier Hariri yesterday said that there is nothing called reshuffle but there is a change of the government. He asserted that his cabinet is staying until the end of the president's term. He said the change now is not possible, since president Hrawi is leaving for a visit to Brazil, the house speaker is leaving to Armenia and Tehran, and he himself is going to visit Australia end of September, furthermore, the parliament will be in holiday during September and the country will receive prince of Riyadh Salman bin Abdel Aziz from 17th to 20th September.

Hariri, trying to support his denial of a government change said during October the parliament will be preoccupied with the fiscal budget that the government will lay down, and as a conclusion it is impossible to change the government by early next year, 2-3 months before the election of the president. He said the motive of leaking such news is to strain his relation with the ministers proposed to be changed, and to shake his relation with Syria by saying he intends to change the ministers loyal to Syria. President Hrawi also denied the news on the government change, denied he discussed the idea neither in Beirut nor in Latakia during his summit with president Assad, "and afterall it is not logical to discuss such local issue and the south case is more important".

Government Meeting

-The government is to meet Thursday instead of Wednesday in an extra session before the trip to Brazil by president Hrawi. A draft bill on the restructuring of the internal security forces would be under discussion. The parliament speaker's sources said passing the law at the parliament will take sometime because several parliament committees have to discuss it.

Lebanon-USA, Albright Message

-President Elias Hrawi yesterday received a letter from the US secretary of state Mrs. Albright handed to him by the US ambassador Richard Jones, who was accompanied by chief of the American team at the monitoring panel Joseph Salivan. Mrs. Albright expressed her admiration for the efforts exerted by Hrawi to restore stability and rebuild Lebanon. She said in her letter "the situation improved during your term to the extent to allow me to put end to the US travel ban". News reports today quoted sources in the presidential palace saying Mrs. Albright letter cannot be taken as a guarantee of no further Israeli escalation because "Israel's premier Netanyahu cannot be predicted".

-President Hrawi ordered to publicize the letter "in order to relief the worried Lebanese". Albright wished Lebanon to sign the treaty on combating terrorism and affirmed that her administration is continuing to work for a just lasting and comprehensive peace in the M.E. region. She pledged that her country will revive the stalled peace talks between Israel and the Arab countries. Press reports today said Mrs. Albright visit to the M.E. would take place in Sept. The US administration denied that the visit will be postponed.

South Lebanon

-24 hours after the five nation cease-fire committee ended its marathon meeting, the Israeli warplanes raided twice hills of Naameh south of Beirut drawing air defenses fire but inflicting no casualties. The target was the Palestinian PFLP g.c. On the other hand, The Israeli artillery shelled quarters of Nabatieh and Iqlim Toffah. The artillery shelling started in the morning with combing the deserted army barrack in Nabatieh and expanded to strike Nabatieh Fawka, Wadi Habbouche and the Litani river course.

Five shells struck the Deir Mar Antonions in Nabatieh causing material damage. The Islamic resistance said it attacked an SLA outpost at Saf el Hawa in Bint Jbeil. The resistance statement said 6 SLA men were either killed or wounded. The SLA admitted that one of its officers was wounded. The resistance also attacked the SLA outpost Dabsheh and destroyed some of its fortifications.

Foreign Minister-Palestinian Refugees Implantation

-Foreign minister Fares Boueiz said the phenomenon of having more than one foreign minister, dealing with the UN resolution 425 and "Jezzine First" proposal in the country, is not a good signal on the cohesive state institutions. Boueiz said the Jezzine First proposal has been already settled since 1991, "when we told US president Bush in Madrid, that Lebanon cannot sit to a table of negotiation titled other than the Israeli total withdrawal from Lebanon in accordance to the 425. He said the attempts that aim to split the internal unity and cause political sensitivities should stop, because the proposal is not under discussion at all. Boueiz said the Israeli military escalation in south Lebanon was a result of the Israeli occupation and it was prior to the case of Jezzine. He said the recent events in Jezzine has links with Netanyahu's wish to maximize OSLO problem and to highlight on security matters before the arrival of Mrs. Albright.

On the reduction of the UNRWA agency budget, Boueiz said the reduction will reflect negatively on the Palestinian refugees health and social care. He said the Palestinian refugees case should not be only a responsibility of the hosting countries, but it is an international and global issue. He hoped that the financial weapon is not to be used to impose political terms on the hosting countries and force it to shift its stands and policies. The foreign minister asserted that Lebanon rejects implantation of the Palestinians because it is a constitutional stipulation and part of the national concessus.


-Lebanon's parliament reelect two members of the constitutional council Amin Nassar and Mustafa Ouji, who had been declared winners in earlier elections without having the legal vote average.

-Ambassador of Brazil in Lebanon said he is leaving to his country to arrange for the visit of president Hrawi. He said president Hrawi will visit Brazil from north to south and nearly from east to west. He said he hopes the visit help Brazilian investors to be encouraged to come to Lebanon and contribute to Lebanon's reconstruction. The ambassador said president Hrawi will visit the main towns and industrial sites. He also said the president of Brazil will visit Lebanon next April or May.

-Patriarch Sfair yesterday received the house speaker of Uruguay who hailed from north Lebanon. The speaker said he admires Lebanon and the Lebanese and he is interested to know the Lebanese northern village from where his grandmother hailed. He said Uruguay parliament was the only one in south American to take a decision demanding implementation of the UN resolution 425. He said the 99 seat parliament in Uruguay includes two Lebanese origin members including himself.

-The Christian religious authorities in Chuf at a meeting in Beit Edine discussed the return of the displaced and the situation in Sidon and Jezzine.

-Sheikh Subhi Tufeili resumed his campaign and today he is hosted by Lailaki people in the southern suburbs of Beirut. The rally will be held at Husseinia, religious center, which is excluded from the last recent government ban of gatherings. Tufeili hunger revolution's notables council is going on steadily. Tufeili said the 300 notables' council will be a forum to deal with the Baalbek-Hermel development affairs.

-Series of seminars were held yesterday in the 19th anniversary of the disappearance of Imam Mussa Sadre.

-Douri Chamoun in a press interview said he is against the army intervention in politics and the government is using the army as its own militia. Chamoun said the future of Lebanon in terms of economy and politics is bad. He said the political fronts are moved by remote control.

-The international amnesty organization- branches of Belgium and Canada-the English branch sent letters to the Israeli president , premier, house speaker and defense minister demanding Israel to release Lebanese detainees in the Israeli jails.


-Ansar is going to play with the Kuwaiti team Arabi Riyadi, champion of Kuwait, in the preliminary of the Asian 7th championship, at Bourj Hammoud on Sunday.

-Ansar player Fadi Alouche has signed to play with Ikhaa Ahli -Aley for $65,000 which include $50,000 to the Ansar and $15,000 to the player.

-First lady Mona Hrawi received the Lebanese sports researcher Labib Boutros who briefed her the outcome of his visit to Switzerland where he presented his book titled "The Phoenician sport" to the Olympic committee museum.

-Two Senegalese football players and another Syrian have signed to play for the Bourj football team in the coming season. Bourj players now include five foreigners.

- Mizyara won the Lebanon basketball championship for the second degree clubs beating the Homentmen 77-75.

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