The set date for municipal and mayoral elections in the Bekaa governorate is very near. The electoral battle in the governorate is being heated day by day as competition increases between the different electoral tickets. A number of lists were announced today in Baalback. With this, attention shifts to this area after being centered on Zahle in the last couple of days. Dr. Asem Raad today announced the list of the development of Baalback in the presence of a huge number of officials in the city and representatives of different parties. The 21-member list comprises candidates belonging to different sects: 11 Shiites, 8 Sunni, and 2 Christians. Another list was announced one hour later by deputy Ibrahim Al-Sayyed. The list of loyalty to national co-existence is not complete yet and it is supported by Hizbullah. Sectarian balance is also not fully regarded in this list for its comprises 13 Shiite candidates and only 5 Sunni.
Beirut's newly elected municipal council is preparing to elect a president and a vice president for the council. Meanwhile, all the members of the winning consensus list in Beirut today dedicated a special thanks for all the residents of Beirut. The list expressed deep appreciation for the support and trust granted by the Beirutis to all the members of the list.
The list especially thanked Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri for all his efforts aimed at reaching consensus in the city and balance in its municipal council. It also thanked former prime minister Fouad Boutrous and deputy Tammam Salam. The election is expected to take place late this afternoon in the office of the governor of Beirut, Nicola Saba.
Transportation Minister Omar Miskawi considered that the results of local polls in Beirut came as a victory for Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri adding there are more plans for the future of this country. Miskawi was speaking during his weekly press conference held at his residence in Tripoli. He stressed that what happened during the election process in the North was normal. On the subject of the expected prisoner swap with Israel, Miskawi stressed this is the responsibility of the Lebanese government adding it is neither for the good of the Amal movement nor for Hizbullah to enter into negotiations with Israel even if these contacts were made under an international framework.
Minister of state Michel Eddeh today said the municipal and mayoral elections indicated that war is really over in Lebanon adding that the participation of the Lebanese was national and comprehensive. The minister also told Radio Orient in Lebanon that the Lebanese proved that they deserve democracy and freedom as they showed great maturity and a high sense of responsibility throughout the election process. Eddeh especially praised the deep awareness among the residents of Beirut of the sensitivity and delicacy of the subject of local ballots in the capital. He hoped elections in Zahle and all the Bekaa governorate will also be characterized by consensus and balance.
The British ambassador to Lebanon David McLenin today described the municipal and mayoral elections in Lebanon as another important step on the road of rebuilding the country's civil and political institutions. He also praised the enthusiasm of the Lebanese in this period. McLenin highlighted the progress witnessed in the country this year referring to the inauguration of the new airport and the ongoing process of reconstruction and rehabilitation in the capital's central district and the rest of the country. He also spoke of progress scored in the level of bilateral ties between Lebanon and Britain referring to the successful visit of Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri to London last summer where he held talks with his British counterpart Tony Blair. The British ambassador was speaking during a reception he held at his residence on the occasion of the 72nd birthday of the Queen of England Elizabeth II. He also reiterated his country's support for the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 425 and the achievement of a comprehensive peace in the region.
Lebanon today filed a complaint to the five-nation cease-fire monitoring group over yesterday's bombardment of the village of Joun. Israeli allied militia gunner bombarded the center of the village which is situated seven kilometers northeast of Sidon. The shelling damaged four houses but no injuries or casualties were reported. The bombardment was followed by Israeli allied militia shelling of the nearby border crossing of Kfar Falous. The panel comprised of delegates from Lebanon, Syria, Israel, France, and the US urges both sides not to launch attacks to or from civilian areas.
Australian House Speaker Ian Sinclair today visited the Southern village of Qana and laid flower wreaths on the tombs of the victims of the Qana massacre. He was accompanied by six Australian deputies and the Australian ambassador to Lebanon. Sinclair stressed the importance of combining efforts among all parties in the Middle East to solve the deadlock in the peace process. Speaking in Tyre, the Australian House Speaker stressed the South is a Lebanese territory reiterating the necessity of the implementation of Resolution 425 without any conditions. He also said he held discussions with both the Syrian and Lebanese leaderships on the current situation in the region. The Australian House Speaker added he will hold similar talks with leaders in Jordan and Israel. Sinclair later headed to the UNIFIL's headquarters in Naqoura, the last leg of his visit to Lebanon.
The Sudanese foreign minister, Osman Ismail, is expected in Beirut soon. His visit comes as part of an Arab tour that will take him to different countries in the Arab world. This was announced yesterday by the Sudanese ambassador to Lebanon, Mustafa Abdel Hamid Rafik. He was speaking after talks with foreign minister Faris Boueiz at Boustrous Palace. Rafik later said that during the meeting, he handed Boueiz a letter from his Sudanese counterpart. He also told reporters in the palace the letter expresses minister Ismail's wish to visit Lebanon in the framework of a tour for the Arab world. He added his country gives great importance to its relations with the Arabs.
The Luxurious Hotel in the heart of Kaslik, Jounieh, Lebanon
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