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Cabinet to Tackle Shifting ISF Intelligence Bureau to Independent Branch in Next Session

The cabinet postponed on Thursday tackling the controversial issue of changing the Internal Security Forces Intelligence Bureau into an independent branch and the extension of the tenure of the Central Bank Chief Riad Salameh's deputies.

During its first session after Prime Minister Tammam Salam's cabinet gained the parliamentary vote of confidence, which was headed by President Michel Suleiman at the Baabda Palace, the ministers decided to postpone debating the two issues to the upcoming session.

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Lebanese Soldier Killed in Drive-by Shooting in Tripoli

The Lebanese army carried out raids in the northern city of Tripoli on Thursday after a soldier was killed in a drive-by shooting, the military and a radio station said.

The army said in a communique that two masked men riding a motorcycle killed Fadi al-Jubaili, an army warrant officer, at around 6:15 am after opening fire on him in the area of Boulevard.

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U.N. Security Council Says Presidential Elections Local Lebanese Affair

The United Nations Security Council held a meeting to discuss the implementation of resolution 1701 that ended the 2006 war between Israel and Hizbullah and the upcoming presidential elections in Lebanon.

The meeting, which was held in the form of closed-door consultations, stressed the need to stage the upcoming presidential elections, An Nahar newspaper reported on Thursday.

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Berri Says he Has No Candidate, his Role is Limited to Overseeing Successful Polls

Speaker Nabih Berri denied that a three-member committee from his parliamentary bloc will inquire the political parties on their presidential candidate, saying he did not have any preferred candidate so far.

In remarks to al-Akhbar newspaper published on Thursday, Berri said the committee, which is made up of MPs Ali Osseiran, Michel Moussa and Yassine Jaber, will discuss with the representatives of parties the appropriate atmosphere to have a quorum in the parliamentary session to elect a new president.

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Conditions Suitable for Presidential Vote, Says Suleiman

The internal and regional conditions are “suitable” for holding the presidential elections, president Michel Suleiman assured on Wednesday.

"The rotation of power is a sign of stability,” Suleiman told the Egyptian state news agency MENA, after holding talks with Egypt's Coptic pope Tawadros II at the Baabda Palace.

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Geagea Says Will 'Withdraw Hizbullah from Syria' if Elected President

Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea announced that he is a “natural” candidate for presidency, vowing to withdraw Hizbullah's forces from neighboring Syria if he was elected the next head of state.

"I am naturally a candidate for presidency since I am the head of the most popular Christian party in Lebanon according to polls,” Geagea said in an interview on Al-Arabiya television that aired on Wednesday.

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Several Social Security Fund Employees Charged with Embezzlement

The General Prosecution charged on Wednesday a number of National Social Security Fund (NSSF) employees with the embezzlement of funds, reported the National News Agency.

Employees tasked with operations at the Fund and others from its inspection bureau were charged by deputy General Prosecutor Judge Ali Ibrahim.

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Saqr Orders Convicting 21 People over Tripoli Bombings, including Eid, Minkara

State Commissioner to the Military Court Judge Saqr Saqr on Wednesday ordered convicting 21 people in the case of the double blast that targeted two mosques in the northern city of Tripoli last summer.

Among the convicted were Arab Democratic Party leader Ali Eid and the head of the pro-Syria Islamic Tawhid Movement-Command Council, Sheikh Hashem Minkara.

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Child Killed in Renewed Tripoli Sniper Activity after Jabal Mohsen Man Shot Dead

An 11-year-old boy was killed on Wednesday afternoon as intense sniper activity was recorded in the northern city of Tripoli.

The clashes renewed after a resident from the Jabal Mohsen neighborhood was killed when unknown assailants opened fire at him near al-Ridani bakery in the northern city, according to the state-run National News Agency.

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Harb Vows to Liberalize Telecom Sector, Promises to Keep Ministry's Work Away from Politics

Telecommunications Minister Butros Harb lamented on Wednesday that the ministry had not been abiding by legal procedures before he took his post, promising to implement a law on the liberalization of the telecom sector.

During a press conference he held to announce his program during the short term of Premier Tammam Salam's cabinet, Harb said he was surprised that law 431, which had been adopted in 2002, was “placed in the drawers” of the ministry.

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