News from Beirut October 6  1998 ...Search

Lebanese-Syrian summit selects General Lahhoud as next president

All discussions and expectations regarding the upcoming head of state were finalized during the Lebanese-Syrian summit that was held yesterday in Damascus between Presidents Elias Al-Hrawi and Hafez Al-Assad. The meeting decided that Army General Emil Lahhoud would be elected president before October 15. After the summit, Hrawi was positive about its outcome and results. Upon his arrival in Beirut, Hrawi called House Speaker Nabih Berri to brief him on the summit talks. Hrawi and Berri had held a meeting before the president headed to Damascus to discuss introducing amendments to Article 49 of the constitution which would allow Lahhoud and other first rank government officials to run for presidency.

Hrawi reiterates support for Syria in the face of all external threats

During the summit meeting, Presidents Elias Al-Hrawi and Hafez Al-Assad also held talks on recent regional developments in light of the Turkish threats and the Israeli-Turkish military alliance. Syrian presidential spokesman, Jibran Kourieh later said President Hrawi reiterated Lebanon's solidarity with Syria's stance that calls for a diplomatic solution to the current crisis with Turkey. Hrawi also congratulated Assad on the occasion of the 25th annual commemoration of the Tishrine (October) War, a turning point in Arab history.

The summit was held in two phases: the first was attended by Syrian Vice President Abdel Halim Khaddam, Prime Minister Mahmud Al-Zoghbi, and a number of ministers, and the second took the form of a closed-door meeting between the two presidents.

Hariri contacts Hrawi for further information on the summit and gives a congratulatory call for Lahhoud

Upon his arrival in the Saudi capital late yesterday, Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri held talks over the phone with President Elias Al-Hrawi who updated him on the decisions reached during the summit meeting with his Syrian counterpart. Hariri later telephoned Army Commander Emil Lahhoud to congratulate him on his expected presidency. The premier told the Lebanese daily An-Nahar yesterday that the choice of Lahhoud as the next head of state is a very good choice adding that the General is highly qualified for taking up office. Hariri also praised the accomplishments of President Hrawi during his presidential term.

In Riyadh, Hariri is scheduled to discuss with Saudi King Fahd Bin Abdel Aziz and a number of top officials in the Kingdom recent regional developments. The premier will tomorrow visit Damascus on his way back to Beirut for talks with Syrian officials on the crisis with Ankara.

Lahhoud visits Hrawi with no comment to reporters

Army Commander General Emil Lahhoud this morning visited President Elias Al-Hrawi at Baabda. Lahhoud did not make any statements to reporters after the meeting. But the Army Commander for the first time greeted reporters with a big smile. Presidential sources said the decision to back Lahhoud in the Lebanese presidential elections was highly supported in the Lebanese-Syrian summit yesterday. Following the Lahhoud-Hrawi meeting,

Agriculture Minister Shawki Fakhoury who also met the president today said the meeting aimed at coordinating moves in the run-up for the election. The selection of Lahhoud was well received today by Lebanese deputies who will soon vote for the country's 11th head of state.

What form will the electoral process take?

The electoral process of a new head of state will be preceded by an amendment to Article 49 of the constitution during a cabinet meeting to be held most probably on Thursday. The session will be headed by President Elias Al-Hrawi who will suggest the amendment to be ratified by cabinet and later referred to parliament before the end of this week, most probably on the same day. For his part, House Speaker Nabih Berri will refer the project to parliamentary committees, which are expected to meet at the beginning of next week. Parliament is then to hold a meeting, probably on October 15, to elect the new president.

Berri calls his Syrian counterpart for an urgent meeting for Arab Parliamentarians

In light of the current Turkish threats to Syria, House Speaker Nabih Berri held talks over the phone with his Syrian counterpart, Abdel Qader Qaddoura. They discussed the possibility of holding an urgent meeting for the Union of Arab Parliamentarians in a bid to reach a common stance regarding Turkey's latest moves. The House Speaker yesterday called various officials in the Syrian leadership to reiterate solidarity with Syria in the face of all aggressive alliances and external threats.

In another development, Berri's visitors today stressed that presidential elections in Lebanon will take place before October 15. Sources close to Berri said General Emile Lahhoud would safeguard constitutional institutions if elected head of state. The sources added Lahhoud will restore balance between the country's top leaders.

Boueiz says Turkey's move aims at "encircling" Lebanon and Syria

The intensifying crisis between Turkey and Syria prompted several Lebanese politicians to condemn Ankara for its military alliance with Israel. Foreign Minister Faris Boueiz denied Turkish accusations against Syria adding that Turkish claims of Kurdish Labor Party activities in Syria are not justified. Boueiz added both Syria and Lebanon have taken measures to prevent any activity by members in this party. The foreign minister also expressed his worry regarding the Turkish escalation, saying it aims at the "encirclement" of both Lebanon and Syria. During a press conference he held late yesterday at the ministry, Boueiz also praised Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's "responsible" efforts in this regard. Boueiz also revealed that Lebanon is currently studying the possibility of calling on Arab foreign ministers to hold a meeting to study the Turkish threats.

Five Israeli soldiers killed and nine wounded in the occupied zone

Five Israeli soldiers were killed and nine others were wounded in consecutive roadside bomb explosions planted by the Lebanese resistance on the road leading to Hasbayya. But Israel today confirmed only two of its soldiers were killed and six others wounded. The operations targeted a convoy of four Israeli vehicles. Israeli forces immediately besieged the area of the attack as ambulances carried the Israeli casualties to the occupied village of Marjayoon. For its part, the Hizbullah Resistance Movement claimed responsibility for these explosions.

Israel later shelled the villages of Mashghara and Ain Al-Teeneh in the Western Bekaa. A number of shells fell near a Lebanese Army checkpoint at the southern entrance to Ain Al-Teeneh. Other shells that fell near a Lebanese Army position in Toumat Neeha injured one Lebanese soldier. Bombardment of Maydoon also damaged the electricity network in the village. On the Southern front, heavy Israeli shelling targeted the villages of Kafra, Yater, Jbaa and other civilian areas.

Arab support continues for Syria

Arab support continues for Syria and Arab pressure on Turkey continues. The Turks have began to retreat from their previous outwardly aggressive stance towards Syria. This was evident in the Turkish prime minister's press release in which he declared that Turkey was willing to accept a peaceful resolution to the crisis with Syria. The Arab states have issued communiques all of which called for a peaceful solution to the crisis.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Kuwait and the Arab League, to mention only a few are among the states who have issued such communiques.

Affect on Lebanon

Syrian-Turkish tensions along with Turkish threats made against Lebanon caused many political circles within Lebanon to entertain ideas to the affect that the office of the current Lebanese President Elias Al Hrawi may be extended for another year due to the Syrian preoccupation with the Turkish crisis. Other sources maintain that the coming era should be one of steadfastness and self confidence and Lebanon is in need of change in order to face the future, especially the outside threats.

University students are provided with public medical insurance in return for the payment of 90.000 L.L

In 1970, the social security system incorporated within its services a program for medical insurance. Few people know that students of Lebanese Universities are covered by the social security system according to the law number 13995 passed on October 26, 1963

Types of coverage :

In accordance with the by laws of the medical insurance fund the person insured along dependent family members receive the following benefits:

1- In case of sickness:

2- Pregnant mothers:

3- In case of death:

The insured person and all of his dependents are eligible to receive one and a half the minimum wage in compensation for funeral expenses incurred due to any one of their deaths.


Mr Nicolas Ajram, in charge of medical insurance at St.Joseph's University, says that there are three thousand students benefiting from the medical insurance fund at St. Joseph's. To benefit, students must be under 30 years old and not benefiting from any other medical insurance scheme. Non - Lebanese students may also benefit if their country also allows Lebanese in its universities similar benefits. There is no specified limit to the amount of coverage in exchange for only 90.000 L.L.The 90.000 L.L is the current fee, the amount of which is the equivalent of 30% of the current minimum wage thus stipulated by the by laws of the fund. After eligible students fill in application forms and receive their medical insurance registration cards, their wives and children also become beneficiaries.

The Lebanese University

The same procedures apply to the Lebanese University and the same benefits given to eligible students.

The American university

The American University of Beirut presents a different case. The person in charge of registration for medical insurance Dr. Wadah Nasr complained of mistreatment by the medical insurance fund and of very late compensation and of the fund not supplying AUB students with registration cards. Dr. Wadah said that AUB students are forced to pay the 90.000 L.L stipulated by the Lebanese law yet they get no medical insurance. Instead AUB offers its own insurance plan named (HIP) which costs 128.000 L.L and which provides total coverage for all medical fees incurred in AUB hospital.

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