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Tripoli Slaughterhouse Temporarily Closed for Failing to Meet Health, Hygienic Standards

The slaughterhouse in the northern city of Tripoli was temporarily closed on Thursday for failing to meet health standards regarding the way animals are killed and how the facility is maintained.

“The slaughterhouse was closed to preserve the safety of the citizens,” said a statement issued by Tripoli governor Ramzi Nohra.

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Hamadeh Describes to STL Syria-Hariri Race for Power

MP Marwan Hamadeh told the Special Tribunal for Lebanon on Thursday that during the months that preceded ex-Premier Rafik Hariri's assassination in Feb. 2005, Syria sought to grant former President Emile Lahoud “all powers” at a time when Hariri worked on forming an anti-Damascus opposition in hopes of winning the general elections.

“Lebanon was a parliamentary system, which was being shifted by Syria into a presidential system, whereby Lahoud - a Syrian candidate and a Syrian representative - was grabbing all powers,” Hamadeh told the STL Trial Chamber.

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Abou Faour Orders Closure of Unlicensed Drinking Water Companies

Health Minister Wael Abou Faour ordered on Thursday the closure of drinking water filling companies that are violating food and water safety standards.

Abou Faour said in a memo that he asked security agencies to close all unlicensed shops that fill drinking water as part of the campaign he is waging against violators.

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ISF Arrests Three Individuals for Setting up an Illegal Call Center

The Internal Security Forces arrested three people on Thursday in the northern district of Akkar for establishing an illegal international call center, the state-run National News Agency reported.

Two Syrian nationals and a Lebanese, who are part of a ring that is accused of setting up the call center on the border town of Arida, were arrested by the police, NNA added.

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Salam Calls for Dialogue to End Country's Crises, Urges Arab Banks Aid in Refugee Burden

Prime Minister Tammam Salam called on Thursday on rival parties to resume dialogue and prioritize the national interest after urging Arab and Lebanese bankers to help Lebanon confront the crisis of Syrian refugees and hoped that politicians would be “infected” with the success of the banking sector.

“We should prioritize national interests and resume dialogue to end political deadlock,” Salam said in a speech at the Grand Serail on the occasion of Independence Day.

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Report: Ibrahim Says Syria Ready to Cooperate in Prisoners Swap Deal

General Security chief Abbas Ibrahim informed the members of the hostage crisis cell that Syrian authorities expressed readiness to cooperate with Lebanon to enter a prisoners swap deal with the Islamic State group and al-Qaida-affiliate al-Nusra Front that kidnapped Lebanese soldiers and policemen in August.

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Gemayel Expresses Grave Concern over 'Dangerous' Situation

Kataeb Party leader Amin Gemayel expressed concern on Thursday over the “dangerous situation” imposed by the vacuum at the Baabda Palace, calling on the Lebanese arch-foes, in particular those behind the obstruction of the presidential elections, to assume their responsibilities.

“Lebanese factions shouldn't under any circumstances obstruct a national, legal, constitutional and political path,” Gemayel said in a lengthy interview with the Kuwaiti al-Rai newspaper. “It is an unforgivable sin.”

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Report: Paris Pressuring Tehran over Presidential Candidate Backed by March 8, 14

France is seeking to encourage Iran to help the rival Lebanese politicians strike a deal on a new consensual president over fears that the regional turmoil would harm coexistence in Lebanon, diplomatic sources said.

The sources told An Nahar newspaper published on Thursday that the French initiative comes with an American support to fill the vacuum at Baabda Palace.

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Al-Rafehi Elected Head of Muslim Scholars Committee after Jdeideh's Resignation

The Muslim Scholars Committee on Wednesday elected Salafist cleric Sheikh Salem al-Rafehi as its new chief following the resignation of Sheikh Malek Jdeideh, who said he stepped down over "political feuds" and revealed that he intends to form a new committee.

"Al-Rafehi was unanimously elected as the committee's new chief for a six-month period," state-run National News Agency reported.

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Aoun Says Willing to Attend Electoral Session if Geagea is Sole Competitor

Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun on Wednesday announced his willingness to attend a parliamentary session aimed at electing a new president if political forces pledge to limit the voting process to him and his political rival Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea.

“I'm willing to go to parliament if I receive pledges that the electoral battle will be limited to me and Geagea,” said Aoun during an interview on MTV.

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