House Speaker Nabih Berri today called on parliament's general assembly to meet next Tuesday morning to study and ratify the constitutional draft law which aims at introducing a new clause to Article 49 of the constitution.
Thus, the amendment will take the form of an additional clause to the article, indicating that this will be a one-time amendment of the constitution to allow judges and first rank civil servants to run for presidency. The general assembly session will be preceded by a meeting of the administration and justice parliamentary committee scheduled for Monday, which is expected to ratify the amendment and refer it to the general assembly. The new head of state is due to be elected on Monday 19, in light of the consensus around Army Commander General Emil Lahhoud's upcoming presidency.
President Elias Al-Hrawi last night called on the Lebanese people to participate in the process of rebuilding their country, urging them to be aware of what was happening around them and warning them not to make false choices. Hrawi was speaking during a live televised broadcast at the inauguration of new buildings in Lowaizeh's Notre Dame University. The president also told the public that the country is in great need of a "great cultural revolution". "We need people who want to build their country, not those who want to protect their communities," he added. Hrawi reiterated his call on the nation's citizens to take the initiative in rebuilding their country because, he stressed, the state cannot be cured of all its problems alone.
The Lebanese daily An-Nahar today quoted an American government official as saying the US administration considers the Lebanese presidential elections a purely internal matter. But, he added, we are concerned that the upcoming head of state should represent his sect and all the Lebanese people. The US official reportedly stressed his country's stance regarding Lebanon has not changed. He added that the choice of Army Commander General Emil Lahhoud is a good one. He also said the US administration was informed of the Lebanese cabinet's bid to introduce some amendments to the constitution and he hoped that the parliament will now play its role in electing the new head of state.
Israeli occupying troops today escalated attacks on the villages of the Iqlim Al-Touffah Mountain Ridges and the Western Bekaa Valley. This morning, around 10 Israeli shells fell on the southern entrance to the town of Libbaya in the eastern sector of the occupation zone. The bombardment also targeted the hills of Srayra, Jabal Kelya, Dellafeh and Mazraat Lucy in the Western Bekaa. The hills of Mount Abi Rached and Berkat Jabbour were also subject to heavy shelling. Artillery shells earlier targeted the outskirts of Jabal Al-Rafii, Mazraat Okmata, and Lowaizeh in Iqlim Al-Touffah. In another development, tens of olive trees were burned due to shelling of the villages of Yater, Kafra, and the outskirts of Majdel Zoun.
Israeli allied militiaman, Akram Wahhab, was today wounded when a bomb, planted by the Lebanese Resistance, exploded in his car. The militiaman was passing on the road leading to the village of Hasbayya.
Meanwhile, resistance men today carried out a number of operations against Israeli and Allied Militia positions in the South. The resistance announced in a statement that one of its groups attacked the Blat outpost scoring direct hits there. The statement added other resistance groups also carried out successful operations against Israeli military forces and their allies at the Sojod, Radar, and Teir Harfa positions inside the occupation zone.
Acting Finance Minister Fouad Sanyoura today said cabinet charged him with finalizing all necessary preparations to issue the one-hundred-million dollar worth of treasury bonds. Sanyoura added treasury bonds worth one billion US dollars were issued during the month of April.
The Acting Finance Minister also said his main target was to reduce the budget deficit to single digits. Responding to a reporter's question, Sanyoura went on to say that the issue of reducing the deficit demands great efforts from the government.
Central Bank Governor, Riyad Salameh recently returned from Washington where he headed the Lebanese delegation to the meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Salameh expressed comfort at the views he traced among both institutions' officials concerning Lebanon. He added that representatives of the two financial institutions seemed comfortable at the recent developments in the financial and monetary situation in Lebanon.
During its last session, cabinet approved an additional sum of three billion Lebanese Liras for the country's Education Ministry. The money will be allocated to government schools in light of the huge influx of pupils who can no longer afford their increasing private school tuition fees. The decision will provide these schools with desks, educational equipment and other necessary material.
The environmental group, Greenpeace, is accusing Lebanon's Industrialists Association of inaction towards the problems of industrial pollution. Greenpeace campaigner in Lebanon, Fouad Hamdan, issued a statement in response to a letter by the association's head, Jacques Sarraf, which follows Greenpeace published test results revealing that the Zouk industrial zone is a major polluted site. Hamdan added that Sarraf has closed the door to any constructive dialogue with environmental groups.
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