Lebanese leaders are closely following the recent security developments in the country especially the charged security situation in the southern city of Sidon. President Elias Al-Hrawi is following the ongoing investigations into the Sidon incidents.
For his part, president-elect General Emil Lahhoud also reportedly expressed concern about the recent developments in Sidon. Visiting diplomats quoted him as saying the president-elect is closely following the investigations and is receiving updated reports from military and judicial officials there on any development. Lahhoud reportedly reiterated the necessity of unveiling the identity of those who mess with the country's security situation as soon as possible.
House Speaker Nabih Berri warned of a dangerous plan addressing Deputy Premier Interior Minister Michel Al-Murr during the parliamentary session yesterday saying security in the country should be given an absolute priority.
Berri also headed a meeting of the liberation and development parliamentary bloc that issued a statement saying the Sidon incidents are but dangerous indicators of a new Israeli plan, which is the first direct result of the Wye Plantation Accord. The bloc expected the latest Palestinian-Israeli agreement would reflect negatively on Lebanon.
For his part, Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri was updated on the recent developments today by Interior Minister Michel Al-Murr who said investigators are inquiring available evidence and information.
Investigations into the recent Sidon attacks continued today. Investigators announced the same gun was used in the two separate attacks on two traffic policemen and the senior leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad Movement in Lebanon and his family. This according to evidence delivered to military prosecutors working on the case.
The Governor of the South, Faysal Al-Sayegh yesterday headed a security meeting at his office in the city's government house in the presence of military and security officials. The military tribunal representative Judge Khaled Hammoud, who also attended the meeting, later announced proper measures were being taken in the city to prevent the occurrence of such incidents. Hammoud added investigators are piecing together evidence and called on the citizens of Sidon not to panic because, he added, everything was under control.
The son of Syrian President Hafez Al-Assad, Doctor Bashar Al-Assad today visited president-elect General Emil Lahhoud at his residence in the Bain Militaire.
The meeting was attended by the head of the Syrian Forces in Lebanon, Major General Ghazi Kanaan. Al-Assad congratulated Lebanon's next head of state on his election.
In the framework of ongoing preparations to the official accession of General Emil Lahhoud to the presidency of the Lebanese Republic on November 24, sources expected that President Elias Al-Hrawi will hold working sessions with president-elect Gen. Emil Lahhoud to discuss the hottest political and economic files in the country in addition to security and reform issues.
Meanwhile, the president-elect continued his meetings today with Lebanese officials, heads of public and private institutions, diplomats, and ambassadors. Lahhoud also received a congratulatory message from Russian President Boris Yeltsin who reiterated his country's will to boost cooperation with Lebanon in all possible fields. The Armenian President and the Director General of UNESCO also sent Lahhoud similar statements.
The long-pending public sector pay scales draft law was today ratified during parliament's second legislative session. But parliament decided that the bill's retroactive effect, which goes back to 1996 and which was included in the ratified text, would have to wait for government funding. The new project involves pay raises for administrative employees, judges and army personnel. The pay hikes, which will take effect as of January 1, 1999, will cost the state treasury 440 billion Lebanese Liras.
The meeting today was headed by House Speaker Nabih Berri and attended by Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri and some ministers. The pubic scales project was also studied last night during a session of the parliamentary budget and finance committee attended by Acting Finance Minister Fouad Sanyoura.
Israeli occupying forces this morning shelled the outskirts of the village of Sawwaneh and Wadi Al-Qaiseyyeh. Israeli bombardment originating from the outpost of Teir Harfa also targeted the towns of Srebbeen, Kafra and the valleys surrounding the villages of Majdel Zoun, Harees, Haddatha, and Yater. The shelling caused damage in civilian property. Meanwhile, Israeli warplanes carried out heavy inspection flights and mock air raids over the areas of Nabatieh and Iqlim Al-Touffah.
For their part, Amal Resistance Groups carried out attacks on the Israeli position of Hardoun, scoring direct hits and casualties there. Other Amal groups attacked the outposts of Radar, Sojod, and Qsseir. Amal operations also targeted an Israeli patrol on the road leading to the Shkeef position. Meanwhile, the Hizbullah Resistance Movement attacked Israeli soldiers and allied militiamen in the outpost of Hmayyed. One Israeli allied militiaman was killed in the operation.
The municipality of Qeb Elias has removed 45 barrels full of unknown substances from an area just above the water source feeding a community of about 50,000 people. Greenpeace had earlier sampled the barrels marked with "toxics" signs and advised to remove them as a precautionary measure.
Employees at the municipality transported the 45 barrels on Sunday afternoon and stored them safely above ground in line with Greenpeace recommendations. The barrels are now above a layer of thick plastic sheets near the town's waste dump and they are covered with the same material to protect them from rainfalls and to prevent any leakage.
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