Lebanon
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Proportional Representation in Limbo

Lebanese politicians seem to be heading towards a new showdown over the issue of proportional representation in the 2013 parliamentary elections after Druze leader Walid Jumblat called for keeping the current electoral system.

During an Iftar held in the Shouf over the weekend, Jumblat said: “It would be better to postpone discussions of proportionality and keep the status quo to preserve diversity and plurality.”

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Report: STL Probing Evidence Leading to Iran

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon probing the assassination of ex-Prime Minister Rafik Hariri is investigating Iran’s possible involvement in the Feb. 2005 bombing that killed Hariri and 22 others, the German Der Spiegel magazine reported on Monday.

The report said that there is evidence that link Iran with the murder of Hariri.

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Officials Say Prison Break Probe Ongoing, Accomplices Will be Punished

Interior Minister Marwan Charbel said on Monday that the officers and security members in Roumieh prison clearly neglected their duties when five inmates escaped over the weekend.

“This is proved and doesn’t require any investigation,” Charbel told As Safir newspaper.

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Week of Confrontation Over Electricity as Miqati, Bassil Clash

The government faces the biggest test ever of bridging the gap among its different members this week after a dispute erupted over a draft law aimed at granting Energy Minister Jebran Bassil $1.2 billion to build plants to produce 700 Megawatts of electricity.

The cabinet meets at President Michel Suleiman’s summer residence in Beiteddine on Thursday amid threats by MP Michel Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement to withdraw its ministers from the government over accusations that Premier Najib Miqati contributed to blocking the draft law proposed by Aoun in parliament.

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Suleiman to Monaco on Thursday Amid Continued Efforts to Lay Dialogue Foundation

President Michel Suleiman is scheduled to travel to Monaco on Thursday on a four-day official visit, al-Liwaa daily reported.

The newspaper also said that Suleiman held separate talks with Hizbullah MP Mohammed Raad and Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea after the Iftar banquet he threw in honor of politicians and clergymen last Thursday.

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Qassem Advises Opposition Not to Waste its Time

Hizbullah deputy leader Sheikh Naim Qassem has advised some Lebanese parties to put Lebanon’s interest before any other interest and work to solve the daily problems of the people rather than betting on the Shiite party’s downfall.

In an interview with As Safir daily published Monday, Qassem said: “Lebanon’s interest should be put before other personal interests and before the logic of farms and different foreign guardianships.”

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Abbas in Beirut Tuesday to Seek ‘Effective’ Role in Palestinian U.N. Bid

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who visits Beirut on Tuesday, is expecting that the Palestinian bid for United Nations recognition will receive a boost from Lebanon's taking over the presidency of the U.N. Security Council.

In an interview with al-Liwaa daily published Monday, Abbas hoped that Lebanon would play an effective role in his bid for U.N. membership on September 20, despite Israeli opposition.

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Mirza Confirms Release of Alleged Arms Smugglers to Syria

General Prosecutor Saeed Mirza confirmed on Monday that the two suspects accused of smuggling weapons from Lebanon to Syria through Beirut Marina were released, As Safir newspaper reported.

Mirza told the daily that “interrogations with them by the army intelligence and the military prosecutor general didn’t prove the allegations.”

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Raad: We'll Keep Our Guns Pointed at Israeli Enemy

MP Mohammed Raad, head of Hizbullah’s Loyalty to Resistance parliamentary bloc, has stressed that “the resistance’s guns will remain pointed at the Israeli enemy, no matter how much we suffer harm domestically.”

“We will only point our guns at the Israeli enemy, which is the enemy of the nation and humanity,” Raad vowed during an Iftar banquet in the South.

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LF on Ehden Incident: Civil Peace is a Red Line

The Lebanese Forces on Sunday called on the residents of the northern areas of Ehden and Zghorta to “exercise restraint and avoid anything that may disrupt calm in the region,” following the gunfight Sunday morning in Ehden which left three people wounded.

The LF stressed in a communiqué the need to “renounce violence and weapons in any dispute,” noting that “only the Lebanese security and judicial authorities are entitled to resolve conflicts and fulfill justice.”

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