News from Beirut September 1 1997 ...Search

Lebanon-Dominant Topics

-Lebanon’s president Elias Hrawi is due to leave today to Brazil in a seven day official visit accompanied by his spouse and 7 ministers. Upon his departure a row over granting or returning nationality to Lebanese immigrants is becoming a predominant issue. President Hrawi left Beirut 6.00 a.m and arrived to the African state Ivory Coast where he was officially received. He was received at the airport by president of the Ivory Coast and held brief talks on bilateral relations. House speaker Nabih Berri is due to visit as of next Sunday Rumania, Armenia and Iran. Prime minister Rafik Hariri is scheduled to go to Paris on 12th September before his official visit to Australia end of the month.

-The economical, social and public debt issues are to be tackled and reviewed. Prime minister Hariri is said to be determined on his proposal to increase L.L5,000 on gasoline and to borrow $1bn more. He was quoted saying he has no other option than to adopt these measures in order to decrease the budget deficit and finance the repatriation of the displaced and other projects. Mr.. Hariri is under strong pressure from the house speaker who rejects any government change and strongly opposes new taxes and charges. Mr. Nabih Berri, at a rally in Baalbek on the 19th anniversary of the disappearance of Imam Mussa Sadre, frankly said he is against the 5,000 increase, the $1bn loan and the increase of the custom duty. Berri congratulated the council of ministers for rejecting to agree these measures without any study. He said " the council of minister's decision was a service to the government, to the prime minister and before that to the people, who would have went down to the street to protest". Berri put emphasis on development projects for the rural areas and demanded the council of development and reconstruction a time table to implement these projects. Mr. Berri said he won't accept the misuse of authority or the attempt to dissociate between the people and army. He said he will not accept the state to turn in the citizen's eye into an oppressive authority, or be changed into an information media "Holding", which has the same orchestrated declarations and coverage on the account of truth and fact. He proposed a three year program to alleviate deprive from rural areas and renewed his call for a national dialogue on the political apprehensions, partnership and human and civil rights, primarily the right to earn living under the economical social crisis. He said that dialogue should center on the parliamentary, municipal and mayoral election laws and the decentralization. Berri said the dialogue should include both the residents and immigrants.

-Minister Walid Jumblat, in an indirect hint toward the visit to Brazil by president Hrawi and the plan to naturalize immigrants, said he is against naturalization. . "We wished some of the president's circles not to involve us in the row over the immigrants “. Jumblat said he is demanding a new naturalization decree which opens the door to deprived Muslims from all regions, and not to be exclusively to one group, taking in consideration ridiculous numerical and regional factors. Jumblat wished a nice trip to the president and his companions hoping they will enjoy there the Samba melodies and to visit the rich quarters which are closed to the poor, and come back home for the country in need of them.

-Defense minister Muhsin Dalloul said the nationality law, which the interior ministry referred to the premiership on 22nd August and later referred it to the concerned committees, need to be reviewed without hurry. Dalloul said "we can't grant nationality to those out of the country, or who migrated since hundred year. He said those wishing to have the nationality of Lebanon should come to Lebanon and should have a place and property. Dalloul defended the prime minister's bid to increase price of gasoline and to seek more loans, adding that rejecting these measures is nice, but what are the alternatives. He said the gasoline price in Lebanon is the cheapest even when compared to the oil producing countries and that the rural areas need extra budget and allocation.

-Transport minister Omar Miskawi called for the classification of the immigrants and granting them nationality in accordance to their affiliation to Lebanon. He said the naturalization law that was placed on the last cabinet session was not seriously discussed. He said the new proposed law is not so much needed, because the present nationality law, issued in the 20's, stipulated that those had been living on the Lebanese territory were Lebanese, and others could be regarded Lebanese if they wished to. Miskawi said there is no need to issue a new nationality law and the circulation of such a law is for propaganda abroad.

-Health minister Suleiman Franjieh Yesterday rejected any tax increase and said a tax should adapt with the individual's earning. He asked the government to lay down a clear economical plan that can be tolerable to the citizen. He criticized the new municipalities law that was adopted in principle at the cabinet meeting and said a reverse step back. Franjieh said the support to the government should go parallel to the support to the resistance and "the head of Lebanon is on top of the Israeli demands list as a pay off for the proposed peace settlement". He rejected the Palestinian implantation in Lebanon and said "progress of the Israeli Palestinian talks on its second stage should not be on the account of Lebanon and its south, and Jezzine First will not be the price for implantation". Franjieh emphasized that the implantation should be resisted by all means.

-News reports today said many ministers and economical labor leaders expressed rejection to the basket of taxes as proposed by prime minister Hariri. They said these measures would lead to more recession, more unemployment and more depreciation of the purchasing power. Some press reports said the tough proposals of Mr. Hariri would have aimed to cause an internal crisis in the country, which allow the outgoing of his government, after his wish to change the government faced obstacles.


-US and France in a joint letter to Syrian foreign minister Farouk Sharaa expressed their support to the five nation cease-fire monitoring committee's mission in south Lebanon and the April's understanding. US ambassador in Damascus together with the French charge d'affaires handed the letter. Syria had welcomed France president Jacques Chirac call for a French-US initiative to rescue the ailing peace process in the M.E.

-Lebanon-Princess Diana

-The tragic death of princess Diana was a front page leading report in Lebanon's dailies. The British embassy in Beirut said it is receiving condolences in a special record at its office. Stories and news dispatches on the tragic death were published in the leading dailies' front pages. One front page headline raised the question whether Diana was killed because she went beyond the royal family red line.


-AMAL movement yesterday claimed responsibility of two resistance attacks against the Israeli outposts at Taybeh and Qantara. The movement has been delivered Saturday bodies of its four resistance members from the UNIFIL Finnish battalion after removing their bodies from the scene of the fighting. The four will be buried today after a funeral service at Burj Chemali near Tyre.

-The Palestinian camps in Lebanon are to stage strike today in protest against the UNRWA agency's decrease of services.

-On the 13th commemoration of the the Kataeb party founder Pierre Gemayel at Bikfaya, former president elder son Amin Gemayel addressed the participants saying "the founder is calling all to rally and surmount ourselves. He wished the occasion to be an opportunity “to unite ranks and consolidate us before the danger that is facing Kataeb and Lebanon". The NLP leader Douri Chamoun was among the participants and he received condolences together with the Gemayel family. President of the Kataeb George Saadeh was absent due to the death of his brother.


-Lebanon's Ansar football team defeated Arabi Kuwaiti 2-1 at a match at Bourj Hammoud stadium on Sunday. Fadi Hallak made the two goals for Ansar, and Mansour Basha made the only goal for the Kuwaiti visiting team. The two teams will meet Thursday at the same stadium.

-Riyadi Ghazir defeated the Syrian volleyball national team 3-0 at Chuair.

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