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Aoun Says Capable of Restoring Stability in Lebanon, Urges Unity

Free Patriotic Movement chief MP Michel Aoun urged on Thursday the minimum amount of unity among the Lebanese to face the upcoming challenges, expressing belief that he is the only one capable of talking to all the rivals and restoring stability in the country.

“If the region reached a balanced state, then all the countries will benefit from it,” Aoun said in a lengthy interview with the pan-Arab daily al-Hayat.

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Report: Saniora's STL Testimony Not Expected to Impact Mustaqbal-Hizbullah Dialogue

The dialogue between the Mustaqbal Movement and Hizbullah is expected to continue despite the testimony of Mustaqbal bloc chief MP Fouad Saniora before the Special Tribunal for Lebanon that revealed that slain former Premier Rafik Hariri was aware of Hizbullah assassination attempts against him, reported the daily An Nahar on Thursday.

Observers told the daily: “The dialogue will continue because the factors that preceded Saniora's testimony and those that followed it have not altered the course of the talks even if some March 8 coalition members sought to tarnish it through media campaigns.”

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Principals who Didn't Close Schools for Annunciation Holiday Penalized

Education Minister Elias Bou Saab on Wednesday decided to penalize the principals of 24 private schools that did not abide by a decree to close educational institutions on the occasion of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary feast.

The minister decided to “stop accepting the signatures of the principals of around 24 private schools across Lebanon due to their blatant violation of a decree by the council of ministers that specifies the official holidays,” Bou Saab's office said in a statement.

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Ajaltoun Daycare Sealed with Red Wax, Owner Arrested

The judiciary on Wednesday ordered the arrest of the owner of a nursery school in the Ajaltoun area in connection with last week's mysterious death of a child at the facility.

Several TV networks said Mount Lebanon's prosecutor ordered the arrest of the Clarina et Zoe daycare's owner over the death of the toddler Elio Salloum.

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Saniora before STL: I am Not in Position to Say that Hizbullah Assassinated Hariri

Head of the Mustaqbal bloc MP Fouad Saniora resumed on Wednesday his testimony at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon by being cross-examined by the Defense that focused on the Syrian and Lebanese security systems in Lebanon during the 1990s and up until the assassination of former Premier Rafik Hariri in 2005, as well as Hizbullah's role in Lebanon.

He said: “I am not in a position to say that Hizbullah assassinated Hariri”

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Al-Rahi Laments Prolonged Presidential Crisis

Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi criticized on Wednesday the prolonged presidential vacuum, expressing disappointment over the ongoing crisis.

“Our mission as bishops is to confront the current challenges and help citizens to surpass them,” al-Rahi said in his sermon during a mass he held in Bkirki on the occasion of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

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Hariri, Erdogan Discuss Strengthening 'Moderation' in Region

Al-Mustaqbal movement leader ex-PM Saad Hariri held talks Wednesday in Ankara with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the “dangers” that are threatening the Middle East region and means to strengthen moderation, his press office said.

“The meeting, which lasted nearly an hour and a half, tackled the situation in the Middle East. It also focused on the need to unify efforts to deal with the risks threatening the region and strengthen the moderate majority in the Arab and Muslim worlds,” the office said in a statement.

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Army's Hefty Catch to Aid Crackdown on Terror Networks

Omar and Bilal Miqati, two top fugitives who were detained on Tuesday at an army checkpoint in the northeastern border town of Arsal, reportedly could reveal important information during investigations that would lead to the arrest of their accomplices.

According to As Safir newspaper published on Wednesday, the two men are expected to reveal crucial data that would lead to busting terror networks and dormant cells in Lebanon and the arrest their members, who were described as highly dangerous.

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BCCL to Start Functioning on Friday in Absence of President

The newly-appointed members of the Banking Control Commission of Lebanon are expected to start their mission despite the absence of a president.

The official Gazette will likely publish the decree of their appointment on Thursday.

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Gemayel Slams Iran's Role, Says Aoun's 'Illogical' Presidential Stance Should Change

Kataeb Party leader Amin Gemayel blamed Iran on the spread of crises in the region and criticized Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun over his “illogical” stance from the presidential deadlock.

“The (region's) crises began since Iran started to spread its influence in Iraq, Syria and in Lebanon through Hizbullah,” Gemayel told pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat in an interview published on Wednesday.

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