News from Beirut May 5 1998 ...Search

Cabinet extraordinary session

In its extraordinary meeting yesterday the cabinet put an end to the debate over the salary scales by endorsing the legislation in preparation for sending it to parliament - two years after it was first charted.

Some details still needed to be added to the bill. These deal with proposals for new areas of revenue to finance salary increases which are retroactive to January 1, 1996.

The cabinet also discussed local elections and decided to exclude from the poll 21 villages where the displaced have not yet returned. There will be no elections in the occupied zone.

The villages excluded are:

Chouf: Breeh and Majdalouna

Aley: Kafr Matta, Gabon, Abey, Ain Drafil and Daqoun.

Baabda: Salima, Bmariam, Arsoun, Abeidieh, Shweet, and Haret Hreik.

Western Bekaa: Masghara, Maidoun, and Loussia.

Jezzine: Mlikh and Louaize.

Nabatieh: Arnoun

Bint Jbeil: Srobbine

Baalbek: Horsh Barada

Discussions also focused on president Elias Hrawi's proposal to amend the law on personal status, a draft which calls for legalizing civil marriage. It was decided yesterday that the proposal will be handed to interior minister Michel Murr for further examination, along with the observations of ministers who oppose the draft as it stands. This is expected to help defer the issue until the next presidential mandate and avoid any additional tension between the troika partners.

Hrawi thanks Sheikh Zayed

President Elias Hrawi today sent a cable to the president of United Arab Emirates Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al-Nahyan thanking him for depositing 100 million US dollars with the Lebanese central bank for three years starting May 7.

The UAE deposit follows a 500 million-dollar deposit and 100-million-dollar infrastructure investment by Saudi Arabia and a 100-million-dollar deposit from Kuwait to raise Lebanese resource.

Hariri concludes a visit to Armenia

Prime minister Rafik Hariri is expected to arrive in Beirut this evening after concluding a brief visit to Armenia. In Yaravan the prime minister held talks with his Armenian counterpart, the recently-elected Armenian president, along with other officials.

Hariri, who arrived in Yaravan this morning, was accompanied by minister Hagop Demarjian and Armenian deputies. Hariri said discussions centered on strengthening ties adding they agreed to improve their already strong relations.

Armenian-Lebanese committees to upgrade relations are expected to meet either in Yaravan or Beirut.

Head of labor union resigns

The general labor confederation (GLC) today accepted the resignation of its president Ghaneem Zoghbi. The GLC which met today said in a statement a new president will be elected on July 7. A meeting will be held next week to create an electoral committee and fill vacancies at the GLC. Zoghbi last week cancelled Labor Day celebrations saying labor demands have not been fulfilled. Zoghbi had said he would resign if he failed to reunite labor union.

Deadlock in Naqura meetings

In Naqura the fine-nation ceasefire monitoring group is still on session and discussions remain deadlock. The group is looking into six complaints filed by Lebanon and four lodged by Israel over truce violations.

Over the last two weeks five Lebanese civilians were wounded and property was damaged in Israeli shelling on southern villages. The truce bans attacks on and from civilian areas but sanctions resistance operations against Israeli troops. Israel is claiming that resistance fighters launched attacks from civilian areas.

McDonald's in Lebanon

The international fast food chain, McDonald's, is due to open in Beirut by the end of the year. A first restaurant will open mid September in Ain Mreisseh and a second shortly after at Dora. Lebanese franchisee Jean Zoghzoghy said the restaurants "will create employment, profit many farmers and local producers, and benefit the construction and advertising industries." Zoghzoghi reported agriculture minister Shawki Fakhoury as saying, "McDonald's restaurants bring confidence and money to the country."

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