Pro-Syrian elected to head Lebanese union movement

Published March 18th, 2001 - 02:00 GMT

Lebanon's main union, the General Confederation of Lebanese Workers (GCLW), has voted in a new leader who is backed by pro-Syrian parties, although more than a third of the GCLW's executive council boycotted the vote, Lebanese press reported Friday, March 16. 

 

Ghassan Ghosn was voted in Thursday with the backing of the Shiite Amal movement and the National Syrian Social Party (NSSP), along with the 12 elected members of the union's executive office, in the presence of representatives of the Labor ministry. Labor Minister Ali Kanso is a member of the NSSP.  

 

But federations classified as "independent," including one representing bank employees and others supported by left-wing groups, boycotted the vote, the reports added. 

 

A total of 27 members of the 74-strong executive council, which chooses the leadership, boycotted the vote. 

 

The number two of the outgoing leadership of the 200,000-member GCLW, Yasser Nehme, told AFP he did not consider the elections legal. 

 

"The executive office of the GCLW did not have the right to call for the shortening of mandate of the leadership, elected 18 months ago for a period of four years, and the labor ministry did not have the right to agree to organize new elections," Nehme said. 

 

Beirut deputy Michel Pharaon, who is minister of state responsible for relations with parliament, also condemned the vote, which he said "favored division instead of promoting good relations in the interests of the workers." Pharaon tried unsuccessfully to mediate in the dispute. 

 

The GCLW in 1992 brought down the government of Omar Karame after a one-day general strike in protest at the high cost of living. 

 

Syria is the main powerbroker in Lebanon, where it stations 35,000 troops, whose presence has come under increasing criticism. — (AFP, Beirut) 

 

© Agence France Presse 2001

© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)

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