High voter turnout was recorded in the municipal and mayoral ballots that took place yesterday in Mount Lebanon, the first round of local elections in 35 years.
Although high security measures were employed across the Mount Lebanon governorate, few and minor incidents were reported. In general, the election process went very smoothly.
The hottest electoral battles took place in Jounieh, Deir Al-Qamar and the southern suburbs of Beirut. Interior Minister Michel Al-Murr inspected some thirty polling stations and held a press conference during the day commenting about the elections process.
Today, the Interior Ministry continues its preparations to release the official results of yesterday's Mount Lebanon local ballots. Interior Minister Michel Al-Murr is expected to hold a press conference late this evening at his ministry to announce the official results.
To start with, local elections in Bourj Al-Barajneh and Ghbeiry went calmly. Amal and Hizbullah are the major rivals in this area. Moving to Kesrouan, enthusiasm and a sense of duty to family prevailed among the voters. The two main electoral lists are headed by Haykal Khazan and Joseph Bone, both brothers of Kesrouan MP's in parliament.
In Deir Al-Qamar, tension was witnessed between supporters of National Party President Dori Shamoun and those of lawyer Naji Al-Boustani.
The Iqlim Al-Kharoub area witnessed a relatively low voter turnout. High security measures were taken in the area but no incidents were reported.
In general, smoothness and organization prevailed in all the remaining districts of the governorate. Lebanese from the age of 21 are eligible to elect municipal council members and mayors for a six-year term.
President Elias Al-Hrawi today welcomed the completion of the first phase of municipal and mayoral elections carried out yesterday in the Mount Lebanon governorate. He hoped other rounds will be characterized by the same smoothness and organization witnessed in yesterday's polls. He also described the local elections as one of the major accomplishments scored in the country. He reiterated his trust in the Lebanese people and in their dealing with these elections from a standpoint that emphasizes their country's development and values their public interest away from political debates.
Israeli warplanes today carried out air raids on the hills of Lowaizeh and Sojod in the Iqlim Al-Touffah Mountain ridges. Two planes launched four rockets on the area. Similar air raids were conducted over the same area yesterday. In Israel, a military spokesman today said Israeli warplanes attacked the Jabal Al-Rafii area. Meanwhile, the five-nation cease-fire monitoring group meets tomorrow at the UNIFIL's headquarters in Naqoura to look into four complaints, two lodged by Lebanon and two others by Israel, over violations of the April 1996 truce agreement.
At the Bristol Hotel in Beirut, Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri today opened the general assembly meeting of the Arab Corporation for Satellite Communication (Arabsat). The premier said Lebanon depends on this Arab institution a lot stressing the importance of communication as an important factor for economic development in all the countries of the world.
In another domain, Hariri praised the democratic accomplishment scored yesterday during the first round of municipal and mayoral elections in the country's Mount Lebanon. He also pointed to the continued challenges that Lebanon faces as a result of Israel's occupation of its South and Western Bekaa. The general assembly meeting included 14 Arab ministers and more than 100 participants from Arab countries.
The new Italian ambassador to Lebanon today told reporters at the foreign ministry the meeting of Mideast Arab foreign ministers expected to be held in Beirut next Monday will be efficient in preparing for the meeting to be held in Palermo on the 3rd and 4th of June. The Italian ambassador, who was speaking after talks with the ministry's secretary general Zafer Al-Hassan, revealed that his country was very supportive of this meeting. He added another official meeting will follow in Germany next year.
Also at the foreign ministry, the Jordanian ambassador to Lebanon carried a letter to Foreign Minister Faris Boueiz from his Jordanian counterpart Jawad Al-Anani. The letter discusses Jordan's support for the implementation of UN Resolution 425 without any conditions and Israel's withdrawal from occupied areas in Lebanon.
Over the weekend, Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri announced from the housing ministry the first nation-wide housing program which might serve as an important factor in solving the country's different housing problems.
Hariri issued the announcement during a press conference held on Saturday alongside Acting Finance Minister of State Fouad Sanyoura. The program includes a new policy based on the government's agreement with a number of foreign and local construction companies to be charged with building housing units and selling them through easy installment terms to be covered by the country's Public Institution for Housing. The project is expected to be completed in a period of three years. About 10,000 new housing units are expected to be constructed under the terms of the agreement.
Superstar model Claudia Shciffer arrived in Beirut on Saturday night. Upon her arrival, she headed to the Casino du Liban where she held a press conference alongside Miss Lebanon Joelle Bohlok. Shciffer praised Lebanese women for their remarkable elegance and also the fashion designers of the country. Over the weekend, the German top model presented fashion shows accompanied by 10 other international models. She also visited the presidential palace at Baabda yesterday where she met President Elias Al-Hrawi and members of his family. Schiffer later headed to Kraytem where she held a similar meeting with Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri and took photographs with his family members.
The Luxurious Hotel in the heart of Kaslik, Jounieh, Lebanon
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