News from Beirut June 4  1998 ...Search

Mufti of the Republic stresses national balance in Beirut local polls as some officials fear appointment in the city's municipal council

Mufti of the Republic Sheikh Mohammed Rashid Qabbani today hoped for local election results that express unity and national balance in the capital. Qabbani was speaking after talks with Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri concerning the elections. Government sources today said fears that the municipal and mayoral elections might not take place in the capital are irrelevant.

President Elias Al-Hrawi was yesterday quoted as saying by visiting deputy Hussein Yateem that he will consider the possibility of appointment in the capital's council in case elections results are characterized by sectarian imbalance. According to official results announced yesterday in Tripoli, 23 Muslims and one Christian were elected to serve in the city's municipal council. Competition is now heated up in the capital especially after yesterday's announcement of two rival lists to the Hariri-backed consensus list.

Boueiz discusses peace process in Palermo

During the Palermo summit held yesterday in Sicily, Lebanese Foreign Minister Faris Boueiz stressed nothing can be discussed outside the political framework of a stalled Middle East peace process. The foreign minister is heading a committee to coordinate efforts between Mediterranean Arab nations and the European Union. Arab foreign ministers earlier gathered in Beirut to prepare a common stance to be asserted during the Palermo talks. The EU and its Mediterranean partners are trying to boost their economic cooperation, derailed by last year by Mideast developments.

Lebanon's Supreme court rejects Red Army appeal

The Lebanese supreme court yesterday rejected an appeal for re-trial by five Japanese Red Army members jailed in Lebanon. The five members were sentenced to three years imprisonment with hard labor last July for entering the country on false passports and taking up illegal residence in Beirut. Sources in the Justice palace yesterday said the previous ruling of the criminal court is now final and confirmed. The group includes Kozo Okamoto, the leader of the 1972 attack on Tel Aviv's airport. The group is being held in the Roumieh prison.

Bekaa residents announce plans to fight pollution

Residents of the Western Bekaa and Rashayya are planning to fight pollution in their area, especially water pollution in the Litani River and Qaroun Lake. The announcement was made during a press conference held in Beirut and attended by Environment Minister Akram Shhayyeb, UNDP resident coordinator Ross Mountain, and a number of researchers, engineers and Bekaa residents. A number of speakers revealed industrial and agricultural waste are being dumped haphazardly in the area. The resident's plan to fight water pollution will be supported by the Environment Ministry, the UNDP, and the agriculture department at the American University in Beirut.

LAU students strike over possible tuition hikes

Students at Lebanese American University in Beirut are striking to protest possible 6-8% tuition fee hikes. Students at LAU have been boycotting classes for two days in the two campuses of Beirut and Jbeil. LAU students in the Sidon campus might also go on strike tomorrow. The student committee at LAU yesterday called for an open-ended strike. Today, the committee called on them to join a sit-in to protest "the unjustified increase in tuition fees". A statement issued by the committee attributed such an increase to unorganized management of money and not due to lack of financial support. The statement added the waste is clear in things that are repeated over and over under the excuse of reconstructing the campus.

Students also spoke of several demands such as: paying only for 12 credits, full medical insurance, no deposit, book store on campus, reducing parking fees, and stable dorm fees including more facilities and activities. The students further suggested creating a student financial budget committee allowed to interfere and monitor financial expenses. For the time being, those students are not attending classes and are boycotting the cafeteria.

They are also threatening neither to collect their statement of fees nor to sit for final examinations. However, some teachers at the university today said these tuition hikes are mere speculations by the students adding nothing is confirmed yet from the administration.

AUB students staged sit-ins yesterday but some classes are still empty today

A situation similar to that at LAU prevailed yesterday at the American University in Beirut. A strike was called for four days ago in protest to a 6% rise in tuition fees. Today, some classes were still empty as students refused to attend before their demands are met. The university's student faculty committee called on all students to boycott all university services and canceled some already planned activities in their campus. The American president of the university, John Waterbury left yesterday for New York to attend the annual meeting of the board of trustees. Before leaving, he promised student committees he will discuss their demands with the board.

AUB and LAU are one of the most expensive universities in the country and tuition hikes are frequently implemented, almost on a yearly basis.

Beirut receives international star Julio Iglesias

International singer Julio Iglesias last night arrived in Beirut. He was received at Beirut's International Airport with a floral greeting. A representative of the foreign ministry was also there. The Latino star is accompanied by 35 musicians and dancers who will perform two concerts tomorrow and Saturday night at the Forum De Beyrouth. The performance was scheduled for last July but had been delayed because of the US travel ban on Lebanon. Now that the ban in lifted, Julio is here and we all give him our warmest and sincerest greetings.

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