The deadline for candidates in Mount Lebanon in the May 24 round ended at midnight yesterday. The number of candidates who stated their intention to run for municipal councils rose to round 7,000 and for mukhtar posts to around 2,500.
Contacts and efforts to from alliances continued yesterday. The principal political figures in southern Mount Lebanon, Walid Jumblatt and Dory Shamoon, met last night over dinner, following Shamoon's surprise announcement to run for the Deir Al-Qamar municipal council.
Hizbullah was also scheduled to receive Baabda MP and Information Minister Bassem Al-Sabaa to review conditions in the municipalities of Ghobeiri and Bourj Al-Barajneh.
Meanwhile, both Speaker Nabih Berri and Interior Minister Michel Al-Murr said the elections would take place, regardless of individual incidents of violence, natural disasters or Israel aggression.
Justice Minister Bahij Tabbara said his ministry was ready for the polls, adding that having judges head the committees that review voter lists is a comforting factor for the public.
Today, interior minister Michel Al-Murr visited Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri and briefed him on the procedures leading to Mount Lebanon local elections.
These procedures were the center of a series of meetings headed by Murr. Governors of Mount Lebanon and the heads of the press and editors' syndicates Melhem Karam and Mohammed Baalbacki and the governors representatives of other districts took part in the talks. Murr stressed the importance of transparency in the ballot. He also reiterated the authorities would not interfere in the elections.
Murr appointed Karam and Baalbacki to monitor the elections and asked all governors and officials to cooperate with them. The interior minister also said a committee to counter bribery was created.
Twenty-nine women from the Lebanese Women Council (LWC) headquarters yesterday announced their candidacies for municipal seats across the country. LWC has been urging the participation of women and coordination among them in the coming local elections that take place for the first time in 35 years.
LWC head Linda Matar said she felt that women have finally realized the importance of being active members in society. Matar added it was time that women realize they cannot just sit and wait for privileges to be handed over to them: "They have to earn their position through hard work," she said.
Russia's mid-east envoy Victor Posovalyuk today concluded talks on the Middle East peace process in Beirut and left for Damascus. Before leaving, Posovalyuk met Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri and reiterated Moscow's call for an unconditional implementation of UN Resolution 425, calling on Israel to withdraw from South Lebanon. Posovalyuk said Russia rejects Israeli demands for security guarantees.
Posovalyuk called for a comprehensive peace in the region adding talks between Beirut and Damascus with Israel should resume from where they were left off with the previous Israeli labor government.
French Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Anne Gazeau-Secret today said Israeli raids on the Bekaa yesterday were " an attack on the integrity of Lebanon." She added, "France can only deplore this murderous military action." The raids were the deepest and deadliest attack into Lebanon in over two years. At least ten Palestinian guerrillas were killed and eighteen others wounded in an unprovoked assault close to the Syrian border.
Observers interpreted the raid as a message to Syria to rein in guerrillas fighting the Israeli occupation in the South.
Still, other observers suggested that Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu hoped to provoke some Palestinian reaction, allowing Israel to reject the US proposal for a West Bank redeployment.
A $1m long-term World Bank loan will provide the Lebanese University with much-needed hi-tech equipment.
Administrative staff will soon be using computers to conduct university business and students and teachers will be able to benefit from the Internet for research and other tasks.
The loan will be divided between two programs. The first introduces computers and the Internet to staff and students at LU while the second involves training employees on the use of the new system.
The Luxurious Hotel in the heart of Kaslik, Jounieh, Lebanon
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