News from Beirut May 7  1998 ...Search

Lebanon's Muslim Shiite community commemorates Ashoura

Muslim Shiites today commemorated Achoura. On the occasion an observance was held in the Amliyeh Institute in Beirut where the head of the Higher Shiite Council Sheikh Mohammed Mehdi Shamseldine called for Arab unity in the face of Israel.

Shiekh Shamseddin also rejected Israeli's conditional offer to withdraw from south Lebanon saying the resistance will continue until UN Resolution 425 is implemented.

Shamseddin called on all Lebanese to take an active part in upcoming local elections stressing merit and not sectarianism should determine voters' choices. A balance between Christians and Moslems, he added, should be portrayed in the upcoming ballot.

Hisbullah, meanwhile, had a rally at Haret Hreik on the occasion of Ashoura. The secretary general Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah reiterated Israel's proposal relating to a conditional withdrawal from south Lebanon is a maneuver aimed at causing rifts among Arab ranks. He stressed the Lebanese right to resist Israel. He also called on the Lebanese to actively participate in the local elections scheduled to start before the end of this month.

Social affairs minister Ayyoub Hmayed today reiterated the Amal movement vows that its members will not run for municipal and mayoral elections. Hmayed was speaking at the commemoration of Ashoura in the southern suburb in Beirut.

Ashoura was marked by two different ceremonies in Baalbeck. Followers of fugitive Sheikh Subhi Tofeili had a rally in the city while a sesparate rally by Hizbullah was held in another part of the city.

The Ashoura occasion was commemorated in Nabatiyeh with the traditional ritual of shedding blood as a sign of mourning.

Hrawi receives Arab finance delegations

President Elias Hrawi yesterday received Arab high-ranking finance and banking delegations participating in the 27th conference of Arab Finance Corporations.

Hrawi addressed his visitors reiterating Lebanon's stance relating to UN Resolution 425. He also stressed Lebanon holds tight to banking secrecy aiming at becoming the treasury of the Arab world.

Hrawi expressed regret the Arab world is lacking in solidarity and co-operation especially in two critical areas: information and finance.

Two Khiam detainees released

The Israeli-allied militia today released two Lebanese detainees from the Khiam detention center in occupied south Lebanon.

Lebanese security sources said the militia deported 47-year-old Ghassan Moussa and 41-year-old Ghanem Naji to Lebanese-controlled territory.

Moussa was imprisoned in Khiam for 12 years and Naji for 3 years.

Israel continues to hold some 160 Lebanese in Khiam and over 50 others in jails inside Israel in clear breach of international standards of human rights. The detainees are held without trial or charge.

US advises Lebanon to attract Lebanese-held money back before looking to others

Mark C. Medish, US deputy assistant treasury secretary for Eurasia and the Middle East, said the Lebanese government should do more to attract the capital investments that are held by wealthy Lebanese communities inside and outside the country.

In his short visit to Beirut, Medish held talks with Lebanese officials and leading businessmen and bankers. Responding to some criticism that the Friends of Lebanon conference in Washington in 1996 failed to fulfil the $5 bn aid pledge, Medish said Lebanon should attract Lebanese-held money back before looking to others.

Medish was alluding to the huge financial resources by both Lebanese businessmen and commercial banks. The central bank said in one of its reports that the assets of Lebanese expatriates are estimated at more than $50bn, most of which deposited in foreign banks.

MP Sukkarich and drug importers

MP Ismail Sukkarieh is preparing a list of alledgedly illegal practices relating to pharmaceuticals. The list, he said, would be presented to judicial authorities. This comes as a response to a statement last week by the association of medicine importers which said there were no illegal or expired drugs in the country.

Sukkarieh said the association had no right to decide which drugs were safe and accused it of smuggling experimental drugs into the country to be tested on Lebanese citizens.

Aerial spraying of pesticides in Bekaa

The agriculture ministry is launching a four-day campaign to fight the "Suna" bug, a dangerous parasite that is currently affecting wheat and barley crops in the northern Bekaa, using a special plane provided by the Syrian authorities.

The campaign had been organized by the ministries of agricultures in Beirut and Damascus as part of a Lebanese-Syrian cooperation agreement.

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