Following are summaries of some of the main stories in a selection of Lebanese newspapers Saturday. The Daily Star cannot vouch for the accuracy of these reports.
Vatican brings Lebanese contradictions together once again
First official hint to extend Parliament’s term
More than two months after the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Lebanon in mid September, the Vatican brings together Lebanon’s sects and political groups once again in the ordination of Lebanon’s Patriarch Beshara al-Rai as Cardinal.
On the eve of the official ceremony, Lebanese official, religious and political delegations arrived in Rome to take part in the ceremony expected to be attended by some five hundred figures.
The pope received yesterday Lebanon’s President Michel Sleiman in his Vatican office where they held a 30 minute meeting to discuss the historical ties between Lebanon and the Vatican. During the meeting, the pontiff stressed the need for dialogue between the Lebanese as the only way for them to solve their problems.
On the eve of his ordination as Cardinal, Rai tackled most current domestic issues and adopted a decisive stance against the return to the 1960 electoral law.
Rai also took a negative stance on the calls to hand over the suspects in the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. “The judiciary is calling for this... knowing that every accused is not necessarily guilty. The matter of guilt is eventually decided by the judiciary,” Rai said.
Rai’s stance stirred controversy among the ranks of the March 14 coalition. Although the coalition would not comment on the cardinal’s remarks, attorneys representing the March 14 political groups issued a collective statement. The response was only legal and the attorneys said that the Special Tribunal for Lebanon’s rules of procedure demand that the state involved hands over the suspects.
The other major development that took place during the Lebanese presence in Vatican was comments by Interior Minister Marwan Charbel about the coming parliamentary elections. Charbel said he will do his best to amend the current electoral law, but did not rule out the possibility of extending the mandate of the current Parliament for about six months to finalize formulating a new law or amending the 1960s law.
Separately, House Speaker Nabih Berri said he gave up calling for a parliamentary session on Tuesday to listen to a speech by the Armenian president and had made such decision because a number of lawmakers and ministers are attending Lebanon’s Day in the Vatican on the occasion of Patriarch Rai’s ordination as a cardinal.
However, the speaker said he replaced the session with a personal invitation for lunch on the same day in Ain al-Tineh to honor the Armenian president.
March 14 boycott parliamentary session [to welcome Armenian President] and Berri replaces it [the session] with an honorary lunch
Egypt was the chief regional political development which took the limelight as people waited to see how it will use its victory in Gaza. President Mohammad Mursi caused a severe crisis resulting from largely expanding his authorities.
On the local level, and in an unexpected move, House Speaker Nabih Berri cancelled the parliamentary session scheduled on Nov. 27 to hear a speech by the Armenian president.
Berri replaced the session with a personal lunch invitation in Ain al-Tineh. The speaker issued a statement saying “all those who were invited to the parliamentary session are invited on the same day and at the same time to a lunch banquet to honor the Armenian president in Ain al-Tineh, and I hope you consider this as a personal invitation.”
Meanwhile, ministers from the National Struggle Front will visit Berri today to meet with Berri. Their visit is part of the consultations they are holding to discuss the initiative suggested by Progressive Socialist Party Leader MP Walid Jumblatt to find a breakthrough in the country’s deadlock.
Sources close to Jumblatt’s ministers said that the consultations with both the March 8 and March 14 camps will be followed by a political document the PSP wants to submit for discussion.
Hariri stresses exclusivity of state authority
Lebanon, a platform to Iranian messages once again
Once again, Iran is using Lebanon as a platform to send messages against Arab states and to the international community, just like it has used it earlier as platform to launch missiles and send drones without a captain.
Iran’s aim of is to prove itself as a major influence in the region and enhance its situation in negotiations about its nuclear program. Meanwhile, an unexpected visit by Iran’s Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani to Beirut raised concerns about possible repercussions.
Shortly prior to his arrival in Beirut, Larijiani had addressed the U.S. administration advising it to stop interfering in the Middle East. “It seems you haven’t heard the voices of the resisting Muslim people, but after Gaza’s war, these voices must be heard.”
Larijiani also warned the states in the region saying “these states can’t say they have supported the Palestinian cause through mediations [to stop the war]. When you offer Palestine military help, then you can say you supported the country.”