Parliament was today in session to study the ratification of the amendment to Article 49 of the constitution. The session was headed by House Speaker Nabih Berri and attended by Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri and some 24 ministers and 110 deputies. The legislature ratified the amendment by 113 votes to four. Deputies Boutros Harb, Kamil Zyadeh, Nassib Lahhoud, and Najah Wakim voted against the amendment.
The amendment adds a clause to Article 49 stipulating that first rank civil servants and judges may run in the presidential elections without having to resign their positions two years in advance. The project was ratified yesterday during a meeting of the parliamentary justice and administration committee before being referred to parliament's general assembly.
Parliamentary sources today said the presidential election session will be attended by members in the diplomatic corps in the country, heads of Lebanese syndicates and unions, the General Labor Confederation, and representatives of the UN Interim Forces in Lebanon and other UN agencies and organizations in the country. The session will be broadcast live on local radio and TV stations. Regarding the oath session, the sources added invitations were sent to house speakers of 19 Arab and foreign states, including a number of parliamentarians who are of Lebanese origin.
The constitutional amendment, which would allow Army Commander General Emil Lahhoud to run for presidency, was published this afternoon in a special edition of the official gazette. Accordingly, House Speaker Nabih Berri called on parliament to meet Thursday morning to elect the new head of state.
Deputy Prime Minister Interior Minister Michel Al-Murr today expected 113 deputies to vote in favor of Army Commander General Emil Lahhoud as the country's upcoming president. Murr today obtained the signatures of President Elias Al-Hrawi and Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri on the constitutional amendment. The law was then sent back to parliament and published in the official gazette. Murr also revealed to reporters the Army Chief will not be present during his election session adding that when the vote is over, Lahhoud will head to the presidential palace in Baabda for a protocol visit.
The Lebanese Cabinet will hold its weekly meeting tomorrow at the Grand Saray. The session will be headed by Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri and attended by the ministers.
57 clauses are to top the agenda of their talks. Discussions are expected to be mostly related to financial, developmental, and administrative matters.
President Elias Al-Hrawi today received at the presidential palace in Baabda representatives of Islamic states who are currently taking part in the Seventh Islamic Trade Fair in Tripoli. The Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC), Ezziddine Al-Iraqi, later told reporters at the palace that talks with the president focused on current Arab issues in addition to the escalating Turkish threats to Syria. The delegation also met today House Speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri.
In violent and evident protest to Ankara's escalating threats to neighboring Syria, Lebanese burnt Turkish products in the city of Baalback. A group of residents gathered to voice their solidarity with Damascus against Turkey's latest move in light of its military alliance with Israel. The city's dignitaries, merchants and residents expressed their condemnation of Turkey by burning Turkish chocolate and biscuits in the city center. The gathering also carried banners calling on all Lebanese and Arab merchants to boycott all Turkish products and merchandise.
Israeli occupying troops early this morning shelled the outskirts of Sawwaneh, Majdel Selem, Jmayjmeh, Kherbet Wadi Al-Qaisseyyeh, and the northern outskirts of the village of Qabreekha.óThe attacks originated from Israeli positions in the hills of Al-Abbad and Mhaydeeb. The bombardment inflicted material losses in different plantations in the area.
The fields of Sojod, Rayhan, Mazraat Okmata, and Jabal Al-Rafii in Ilqim Al-Touffah were also subject to heavy artillery shelling launched from Israeli outposts in Zaffateh and Aysheyyeh. Huge fires blazed in the Sojod-Rayhan fields due to the shelling.
The Follow-up Committee of Lebanese Detainees in Israeli Jails today announced a social rehabilitation unit was formed as part of a project to establish a center to help former Lebanese detainees who were subject to physical and psychological torture in Israeli detention camps. The unit started its activities in direct coordination with the French Center of Psychological Treatment, one of the institutions of the French Embassy in Beirut. The center will offer free psychological treatment for those freed prisoners and their families.
Minister of Trade and Economy Yassin Jaber headed a forum in the Rashid Karameh International Exhibition Center in Tripoli under the framework of the Seventh Islamic Trade Fair which was opened yesterday by President Elias Al-Hrawi. The ministerial forum was attended by the Malaysian Minister of Trade and Industry, the Indonesian Minister of Investment, and Cameron's Trade Minister, in addition to a number of Lebanese trade and economy officials. Discussions centered on ways to boost economic cooperation between Islamic and Arab States in the era of globalization. Speakers also stressed the importance of expertise exchange between their countries.
For the third consecutive day, fires continued to rage and spread today in various forests and fields across the country. At least 150 blazes have been reported since yesterday. Weather sources in Lebanon reveal the causes are high temperature, low humidity rate, and fast dry winds. The head of the Fire Fighting Department, Ghassan Balaa, reported that fires blazed in Dekwaneh, Mkalles, Kmatiyeh, Fanar, Alayeh, Aytat, Kayfoun, Shbaneyyeh, Qebbeye, Hammana, Al-Barouk, and Deir Al-Qamar. Fire fighters, civil-defense teams, the Lebanese Army, along with the residents cooperated to encircle the fires in a bid to prevent the blazes from reaching residential areas. But civil defense teams are complaining about the lack of coordination between the teams of the various regions and a lack of helicopters and proper equipment.
More than 67 fires yesterday erupted in areas in the North, the South, Mount Lebanon, and Kesrouan. One of the most huge fires was witnessed near the protected area of the Barouk Cedars. The fires were ferociously fought so as not to invade the precious cedars of Al-Barouk.
A Lebanese video clip created by composer, Oussama Al-Rahbani, recently won the prize of the Francophone Cooperation Agency during a contest that presented Mediterranean video clips in the outskirts of the Tunisian capital. The event, featuring clips from 13 countries, was organized by the French MCM channel. Rahbani's clip entitled "We have to change the system", won a prize of 4000$. The clip was forbidden in Lebanon for some time but the composer's will to spread the revolutionary song was strong enough.
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