News from Beirut September 24  1998 ...Search

Email your presidential candidates. Member of parliament Boutros Harb said he would run in Lebanon's presidential elections planned for October. You can contact him using E-mail : or read about his Personal Biography, Political Life and candidacy speech.

Presidential elections might be held before October 15

Continuous talks and consultations between Lebanese officials left an impression among many analysts in the country that the presidential elections will be held before October 15 and that the amendment to Article 49 of the constitution would be ratified during the first 10 days of next month. Such an impression was based on a number of statements delivered by deputies visiting House Speaker Nabih Berri and also announcements made by Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri in New York. House Speaker Berri, meanwhile, expected parliament's extraordinary session would be opened at the beginning of October to amend Article 49, which would enable first rank government employees to run for presidential elections.

Meanwhile, a Lebanese-Syrian presidential summit is expected to be held soon between Lebanon's President Elias Al-Hrawi and his Syrian counterpart, Hafez Al-Assad. Analysts believe the summit would help set a final date for the presidential elections in Lebanon.

Hariri stresses just and comprehensive peace

Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri today delivers Lebanon's statement at the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York. In his speech, the premier will stress Lebanon's firm stance regarding the unconditional and full implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 425 which calls for the immediate withdrawal of Israeli troops from South Lebanon and the Western Bekaa. Hariri will also reiterate the unity of the Lebanese- Syrian tracks in the peace process and the adherence to a just and comprehensive peace formula in the Middle East. Lebanon's statement will also blame Israel and its intransigence for the current deadlock in the Mideast peace process.

Lebanon's Premier blames Israel for peace deadlock

Lebanon's Prime Minister, Rafik Al-Hariri, yesterday headed a general meeting for the Arab ambassadors to the United Nations. He told the meeting UN Resolution 425 is clear and it does not give Israel the right to stay in the zone it occupies in South Lebanon. Hariri added Israel is to be blamed for the stalemate in peace talks with Lebanon and Syria. Hariri added the Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu has no serious intentions to reach peace with the Arabs. Hariri also reiterated the policy of continuous coordination between Lebanon and Syria regarding peace in the region.

The prime minister is expected to meet UN Secretary General Kofi Annan before heading to Washington on Friday for talks with US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah Bin Abdel Aziz.

Italy's Foreign Minister denies his country would pullout UN battalion from South Lebanon

Italian Foreign Minister Lumerto Dini denied reports that his country wants to pullout Italian soldiers working under the UN Interim Forces in South Lebanon. Italy's Foreign Minister was speaking to reporters after a meeting he held yesterday with Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri in New York.

He reiterated the Italian battalion will stay in the South without undergoing any reduction in its services. He also promised more military support for Lebanon. But the Italian official expressed concern for the stalemate in the Mideast peace process, calling on Washington to exert more pressure on Israel for reviving peace moves.

Berri discusses current events with French and US ambassadors

House Speaker Nabih Berri today discussed recent developments in the country with the French Ambassador to Lebanon, Daniel Jouanneau. Jouanneau was accompanied by the French delegates to the five-nation cease-fire panel charged with monitoring the April 1996 Understanding. Also in parliament today, Berri received the new US Ambassador to Lebanon, David Satterfield who later met Deputy House Speaker Elie Al-Firzli. Saterfield this morning held his first official meeting in Lebanon with the Secretary General of the Foreign Ministry, Zafer Al-Hasan. The new US ambassador yesterday handed President Elias Al-Hrawi a copy of his credentials at Baabda.

Wakim says presidential elections should not overshadow economic situation

Deputy Najah Wakim today said the subject of the upcoming presidential elections, despite its high importance, should not overshadow the truth behind the economic and financial state of the country. He made his statements this morning during a press conference he held in parliament. Wakim added one of the most dangerous threats faced by the country today is the Lebanese people's lack of trust in their government. But Wakim stressed Lebanon can still be saved despite the current difficult conditions, suggesting the revival of the country's constitutional institutions and the rule of law as important means to achieve that.

New Israeli position established near Markaba

Israeli forces today established a new position near the occupied village of Markaba. This outpost is also situated near a base of the UN Interim Forces in the same area. Meanwhile, Israeli shelling continued unabated on freed Southern villages. Shells originating from the outpost of Al-Abbad targeted the villages of Qaiseyyeh and Sawwaneh. In another development,Israeli navy forces stopped a trade ship carrying cars near the port of  Tyre. The ship was held for more than half an hour before it was allowed to continue its way to the city's harbor.

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