News from Beirut May 21  1998 ...Search

Hariri calls for "apolitical" elections

Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri reiterated his call on politicians not to run for the upcoming municipal and local elections, saying citizens should be served by municipal councils and not members of ruling parties or groups.

Hariri had met House Speaker Nabih Berri yesterday and agreed to promote consensus lists of independent and apolitical candidates. The prime minister was speaking during a political talk show on Future Television last night where he urged the country's youth to actively participate in the local ballots. Hariri said Lebanon has decided to take on the challenge of successfully carrying out the local elections and the government, he added, is committed to providing a national atmosphere that safeguards co-existence.

The premier stressed that voters in Beirut should vote in a responsible manner for a compromise list which represents all sects in the capital that suffered gravely during the war. Hariri also called on all voters to choose their candidates based on qualifications and merits and to avoid sectarianism during the polls.

No coalition lists in Beirut's southern suburb

Hizbullah this afternoon announced its electoral list for the local elections in the Bourj Al-Barajneh district. The list is headed by Qassim Rahhal. This development came after reports that Hizbullah will not be forming coalitions with other parties in the district.

Information Minister Bassem Al-Sabaa who had been mediating between the groups had said no consensus list was reached between the most two powerful parties in the southern suburb: Hizbullah and Amal.

Cabinet postpones local elections in the town of Baabda

Cabinet last night decided to postpone local elections in the town of Baabda until October 4. This was announced by Information Minister Bassem Al-Sabaa following cabinet's session. In another development, local ballots will be held in Horsh Barada which was previously exempted as a result of displacement. Other announcements concerning the upcoming municipal and mayoral elections were also made last night. Cabinet decided elections will be held in the areas of Ras Masqa, Koura, Labaya and Khiara.

Israeli air-raid on the Bekaa valley

Three Lebanese civilians and two resistance men were wounded this afternoon when two Israeli warplanes raided the area of Jabal Abu-Rashed. The planes fired four missiles into a hilltop south of the Bekaa valley adjacent to the zone Israel occupies in the South.

Earlier in the day, an Israeli army spokesman stated that Israeli forces last night killed a Lebanese resistance man and wounded two others in Jabal Sojod in the eastern sector of the occupied zone.

Two Lebanese children killed in mine explosions yesterday

Two children were killed yesterday when a mine dating back to the Israeli invasion in 1982 exploded in a field near Taanayel, Zahle, where the children were playing. The children's names and ages were not disclosed.

The Israeli army had intensively mined this section of the Bekaa. About 40 residents from nearby villages have since been killed in mine explosions, while dozens of others have been maimed according to Lebanon's health ministry.

Lebanon protests Israel's abduction of 11 children

A crowd of angry protesters today gathered to protest against the abduction of eleven children by Israel. The follow-up committee for Lebanese detainees in Israeli jails is expected to deliver a memorandum to the United Nations describing the physical torture that children are enduring in Israeli detention camps.

Parents and officials gathered in front of the International Red Cross headquarters in Beirut this morning. Many explained that they did not know why their children were abducted. They are simply held in Israeli prisons without any valid charges.

Posovalyuk is back in Beirut

Russia's special mideast envoy Victor Posovalyuk today expressed concern over the deadlock in the peace process, describing the situation as complicated. Posovalyuk was speaking after talks with Foreign Minister Faris Boueiz at Boustrous Palace this morning. For his part, Boueiz blamed Israel's policies for the stalemate in peace negotiations.

The Russian envoy said Moscow will work to revive talks. It is the second time Posovalyuk visits Beirut in a week. The Russian envoy had lately made similar visit to Damascus, Amman and Tel Aviv.

Government approves free trade agreement with Egypt

A trade agreement with Cairo was yesterday approved by the Lebanese government. The pact will remove custom duties on industrial goods over a period of five years. It will also help regulate trade of agricultural goods. The ministers of economy, industry and agriculture yesterday expressed their views on the pact during last night's cabinet session. Even though cabinet gave approval for the agreement, it still requires the signature of officials from Lebanon and Egypt. Under the agreement, Cairo will be allowed to export its potatoes, onions, garlic and watermelon to Beirut. Lebanese grapes, apples, cherries and apricots will be allowed to be shipped out on the other hand.

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