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Hariri on Martyrs Day: We Hope Lebanon Will Remain a Beacon for Democracy and Freedom

Caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri hoped on Friday that Lebanon would remain a beacon for democracy and freedom in the Arab world.

He said on the occasion of Martyrs Day: “Since 2004, Lebanon has been plagued with assassinations, the most notable of which took place on February 14, 2005, with the murder of former Premier Rafik Hariri.”

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Saqr: Aoun will Burn his Fingers

Lebanon Now MP Oqab Saqr has accused Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun of relying on militias on the street to achieve his political objectives.

Saqr told the Kuwaiti al-Seyassah daily in an interview published on Friday that Aoun’s latest statements were “very dangerous.” They give an impression that Premier-designate Najib Miqati is his “employee.”

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WikiLeaks: Geagea Says Hariri and Jumblat Might Make Deals at March 14 Expense

Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea expressed fear over carrying out deals under the table to form the new government and said that caretaker PM Saad Hariri might drop the agenda of the March 14 forces, a WikiLeaks cable published in al-Akhbar newspaper on Friday said.

The cable dated May 15, 2008 said that the LF leader described the caretaker PM’s words as “nonsense” and said that Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat is “scared” so they’re seeking a way out.

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WikiLeaks: Hariri Urged U.S. to Provide Military with Helicopters to Defeat Hizbullah

In a WikiLeaks cable dated May 24, 2008, caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri seemed defeated, distressed and still indecisive about announcing his candidacy for the premiership.

Hariri complained how the international community was ignoring Hizbullah’s ability to take control of most of Beirut in May 7, 2008.

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Report: Lebanese Officers Training in Syria Return Upon Regime’s Request

Lebanese army officers who were on training programs in Syria have returned to Lebanon upon the request of the Syrian authorities, al-Liwaa daily reported on Friday.

The newspaper said several agreements signed between the Lebanese and Syrian armies stress on the exchange of expertise and attending training courses.

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Miqati Promises Berri to Put off Announcement of De Facto Cabinet Amid Full Discretion on New Proposal

Premier-designate Najib Miqati has for now shelved efforts to form a de facto government and vowed to give the cabinet formation process more time after talks with Speaker Nabih Berri, Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat and other mediators.

As part of intensified efforts to end the row between Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun and President Michel Suleiman over the interior ministry portfolio, Miqati met Thursday night with Berri, Jumblat, the speaker’s advisor MP Ali Hassan Khalil, and Hussein Khalil, a political aide to Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.

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Hizbullah Slams Bahrain Arrests: Part of Oppressive Crackdown

Hizbullah on Thursday condemned the arrest of Sheikh Mohammed Ali al-Mahfouz, secretary-general of Bahrain’s Islamic Action Society, describing it as part of “an unjust arrest campaign conducted by the Bahraini authorities against national, religious, medical and professional figures in Bahrain.”

“These continuous arrests are part of an oppressive crackdown … that includes the burning of Korans and the desecration of mosques and (Muslim) scholars’ tombs,” the party said in a statement.

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Al-Rahi Calls for Forming Neutral Govt: Unacceptable to Cripple Country over Certain Portfolio

Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi on Thursday returned to Beirut from the Vatican, after participating in the beatification of the late Pope John Paul II on Sunday.

Flanked by President Michel Suleiman’s representative, caretaker Interior Minister Ziad Baroud, al-Rahi told reporters at the Beirut Rafik Hariri International Airport that the minister’s latest decision to refrain from participation in the new cabinet reflected his “culture of sacrifice and giving,” lauding Baroud for “putting public welfare above all private interests.”

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Williams Stresses after Meeting Franjieh Need to Form New Government as Soon as Possible

U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Michael Williams stressed after holding talks with Marada Movement leader MP Suleiman Franjieh on Thursday the need to form a new government as soon as possible.

He said that the new Cabinet would help resolve pending issues, especially economic and social disputes.

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Roumieh Inmates Begin Hunger Strike: We are Preparing for a Bloody Massacre at the Prison

As Safir reported on Thursday that inmates in Roumieh’s bloc D have started a hunger strike on Wednesday, demanding the speeding up of trials and improvement of the conditions in the prison.

The strike coincided with a sit-in held by the families of the prisoners before the prison on Wednesday, which has been moved to Riad al-Solh square in downtown Beirut where three tents have been set up in solidarity with their sons.

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