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Aoun: UN STL Funding Sanctions a Military Invasion, Security Threats to the South

Aoun: UN STL Funding Sanctions a Military Invasion, Security Threats to the South
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Zeinab Essa

The Lebanese way in solving things emerges back to the political scene every now and then: connections, consultations, meetings, and racing against time which surely lead to last minute compromises.

The Labor union suspended its strike and Lebanese House Speaker Nabih Berri's promise that there is no strike turned to reality.

An eleventh-hour deal that saw the Lebanese government raise wages and increase benefits averted what had promised to be one of the largest strikes in the country's history to a settlement between the government and the labor union.

"De facto" Settlement of Wages

"PM Mikati decided to increase 200,000L.L on the wages ranging from 500,000 and 1 million, and to increase 300,000 L.L on wages ranging from 1 million to 1.5 million as well as increase social services." Information Minister Walid Daouk stated.

The agreement also included raising the daily transportation allowance to 10,000 L.L from 8,000 L.L while the education allowance for children jumped to a maximum of 1.5 million L.L.

Expressing the union's reservations on the settlement, head of the Labor's Union Ghasssan Ghosn announced late at night that the strike would be suspended and that the union will hold a broad meeting on Thursday to discuss this issue and take appropriate measures.

Prime Minister Najib Mikati admitted that both the labor union and the private sector had some reservations about the deal.

"We had to take into consideration the capabilities of the state and the private sector, as well as the impact on inflation. This may not be the best solution but under the circumstances, this is the best we can offer," Mikati told reporters.

"Al-Akhbar" Lebanese daily reported Wednesday that five ministers from the Change and Reform Bloc expressed objections, namely Labor Minister Charbel Nahhas, Energy and Water Minister Gebran Bassil, Justice Minister Chakib Qortbawi, Tourism Minister Fady Abboud and Industry Minister Vrej Sabounjian.

"These five ministers adamantly refused any "deal" regarding wages, which does not take into account the draft comprehensive health coverage, the increase of public investments in key service sectors that cause households and production players to incur additional costs and the amendment of wages according to wage sections and based on satisfying rates," the paper clarified.

Labor Minister Charbel Nahhas told "as-Safir" that: "As "Change and Reform Bloc" ministers, we voiced our objection to every item of the settlement and to the manner of running the negotiations. We expressed our attachment to the comprehensive draft solution submitted by the Ministry of Labor to the Council of Ministers two days ago."

Similarly, "as-Safir" quoted Energy Minister Gebran Bassil as saying that "this is not a government; rather, it is a governed entity."

"The settlement is no drastic solution; rather, it reflects an inability to resolve problems with the minimum level of responsibility and free from patched-up solutions," Bassil stressed.

The government also agreed to issue bonds in foreign currencies to finance several projects and approved two agreements between Lebanon and the World Bank.

In another context, Mikati considered that administrative reform is a top priority for the government, calling on the state minister for Administrative reform Mohammad Fneish to develop a draft law to tackle bottlenecks and move public administration in Lebanon into the electronic era.

"Our primary concern is to reactivate Lebanon's public administration, solve the problems it is facing and move from a traditional into an electronic administration," Mikati said during a workshop organized by the Ministry of State for Administrative Reform.

Aoun: UN Sanctions for STL Funding A Tantamount to Military Invasion

At another Lebanese development, "Change and Reform bloc" Leader MP Michel Aoun renewed on Tuesday his rejection of the funding of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, slamming any potential United Nations Security Council sanctions against Lebanon in this context.

Following the weekly meeting of his bloc, Aoun stressed that "any sanctions against Lebanon over this matter are tantamount to a military invasion."

"The STL is acting as if it is part of the Security Council and it should therefore fund it itself," he added.

Calling the government to assume "its responsibilities and control the border between Syria and Lebanon," Aoun noted that "we don't have to take rumors into consideration."

Security Threats to South

In parallel, a well-informed source informed "as-Safir" that "the army and security forces have made significant progress in the seizures of the Lebanese border with Syria, despite the potential weakness."

"The focus of terrorist groups has returned to the South, especially in the border area with occupied Palestine amid information of fundamentalist readiness for the exploitation of the current situation by launching rockets from the South towards the occupied Palestine or by targeting "UNIFIL" to ease the pressure on these groups at the Lebanese border line with Syria," the source confirmed.

Noting that "this movement coincides with money transfers to Lebanon to people whose affiliations and directions are well known," the source explained that "some of the money arrived via mail to avoid entry through banks and to remove suspicion from the senders or those to receive it."

At another security level, a Lebanese security source told "as-Safir" that "the Syrian troops halted on the road to Homs-Tartous two cars packed with weapons, explosives and light equipment."

"After inspecting, the seizures show that the origin of these equipments is "Israel" including machine guns of the "Israeli" "Uzi" type coming from Lebanon across the North," the paper reported.

Meanwhile, the Lebanese Army Intelligence arrested a man after doctors at a Beirut hospital found a spying device planted in his belly,

"As-Safir" said that H.M. was admitted to hospital after falling ill. When the doctors ran a check-up on him, they found the electric device.

"After inspecting the device, the Army discovered that it is high developed spying equipment," the newspaper revealed adding that "the Army Intelligence is questioning the man in full secrecy."

Source: Lebanese newspapers, Translated and Edited by