Lebanese PM Hariri to Travel to Syria Thursday for Meeting with Assad
Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri will make a visit to Syria Thursday as he tries to recover stature after losing a turf war to Lebanon's President Emile Lahoud over the mass arrests of anti-Syrian activists last week, reported AFP, quoting press reports.
Hariri will meet with Syrian President Bashar Al Assad in Damascus, which stations thousands of troops in Lebanon and plays the role of kingmaker in the country's political life, it said.
Lahoud, long known for his close ties to Damascus, on Monday pushed a bill through parliament allowing the state's general prosecutor to stretch police detentions to four days.
The move marked a severe defeat for Hariri, who receives lukewarm backing from Damascus, and others enraged by last week's round-up of Lebanon's anti-Syria opposition, said AFP.
Two MPs skipped Tuesday’s session to protest “the rapid and unconstitutional manner in which a draft introducing amendments to the Criminal Procedures Law was approved,” reported the Daily Star.
One of them, Boutros Harb told the paper that that the amended legislation would be challenged before the Constitutional Council.
More than 200 anti-Syrian Christians were seized in the army's surprise crackdown on political parties and organizations demanding the redeployment of thousands of Syrian troops who have been stationed in Lebanon since the 1975-1990 civil war.
Hariri had not been informed of the arrests beforehand, but a five-hour cabinet meeting late last week endorsed the move, but regained some prestige to the ministerial council, by reaffirming that all the country’s official institutions, including the army, must be under the supervision of the civilian government.
Another 19 anti-Syrian Christian activists received sentences Tuesday for "belonging to dissolved groups" as part of the Lebanese army's crackdown on anti-Syrian forces, court sources said.
Assad had felt free to applaud Lahoud’s strongman tactics after Lebanon's parliament blinked, with an official endorsement of Lahoud Tuesday in Syria's official Tishrin newspaper, said the agency.
Lebanese newspapers reported Wednesday that Lebanon's army commander and Lahoud ally Michael Suleiman met with Assad the day before – Albawaba.com
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