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Suleiman Holds onto Interior Ministry Amid Sign that Appointments Are Among Cabinet Obstacles

President Michel Suleiman reportedly is still holding onto the interior ministry portfolio as part of his share in the new government but could agree that a personality other than Ziad Baroud heads the ministry, media reports said Saturday.

An Nahar daily said that Suleiman won’t give up the portfolio “at all” but might not hold onto Baroud who headed the ministry in Caretaker Premier Saad Hariri’s cabinet.

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Obama Extends National Emergency on Syria over Lebanon Meddling

U.S. President Barack Obama has extended the national emergency with respect to the actions of the Syrian government, saying that its support for Hizbullah and Hamas and meddling in Lebanon makes it a threat to national security.

Syria’s ongoing pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, support for anti-Israel groups and interference in Lebanon make it a "continuing unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States," said a White House statement.

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Baroud Confirms Illegal Construction on Public Property will Lead to Demolition

Caretaker Interior Minister Ziad Baroud has said that the government is taking responsibility for removing all illegal construction on state property.

“The state institutions did their duties. This issue isn’t targeting the residents, but it is against those who are violating the public right,” Baroud told As Safir newspaper.

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Wahhab Apologizes Over Checks Scandal: We Were Hoaxed

Tawhid movement leader Wiam Wahhab has apologized for the checks scandal that he raised two weeks ago and said he had the guts to say it out loud.

Those “who don’t have the guts to take a stance, don’t have the guts to apologize, and I have both,” Wahhab told Voice of Lebanon radio station (100.5) on Saturday.

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Syrian Families Seek Refuge in Wadi Khaled

Fleeing violence in Syria, Umm Maher left her husband and six sons behind and crossed into northern Lebanon, where she now shares a single room with 12 other family members.

"At night we roll out these mattresses and I sleep next to my daughter, two daughters-in-law and nine grandchildren," says the 60-year-old, pointing at futons rolled up against the wall.

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ISF, Army Put End to Construction Violations around Airport Fence

Internal Security Forces and army troops on Friday managed to put an end to construction violations around the Beirut airport which, according to Lebanese ministers, had posed a threat to the safety of civil aviation.

“An Internal Security Forces unit, backed up by army troops, has been carrying out a mission since today morning, which has led to curbing construction violations near the fence of the Beirut Rafik Hariri International Airport, after clashes with the violators,” state-run National News Agency reported.

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Geagea Opens 2-Day Congress: LF Not Party of Single Person

Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea said Friday that the LF is the party of the cause and history and not the party of a person.

During the opening of the two-day congress that will discuss the LF by-laws, Geagea said: “The by-laws in our hands today took five years of intense work.”

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Like Rats, Inmates Languish in Roumieh Prison

Elham has been languishing in Lebanon's notorious Roumieh prison for more than a year, waiting to appear before a judge on charges of illegally entering the country from Iraq.

"We are packed like sardines and are left to rot while living like rats," said the Iraqi man, who requested that his real name be concealed.

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Al-Rahi Heads to the Vatican: Cabinet Formation Should be Speeded Up

Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi on Friday called for speeding up the cabinet formation process ahead of his visit to the Vatican to participate in the beatification ceremony of Pope John Paul II.

“We should speed up the government formation process to regain Lebanon’s role as a message,” al-Rahi told reporters at Beirut airport before heading to Rome.

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Suleiman Reportedly Gives up Interior Ministry but FPM Rejects Giving it to Neutral Personality

President Michel Suleiman and Premier-designate Najib Miqati have reportedly reached a tacit agreement for the head of state to drop his demand for the interior ministry portfolio as part of his share in the new cabinet.

An Nahar daily said Friday that Miqati visited Baabda palace the day before to discuss with Suleiman the government deadlock that mainly rose because of the bickering between the president and Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun over the portfolio.

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