Lebanese patriarch denies rift report

Aljazeera reports that the Lebanese Maronite Catholic patriarch, Cardinal Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir, has denied reports of disagreement between him and members of the Qornet Shehwan Gathering.

    Cardinal Sfeir is an influential voice in Lebanese political affairs

    The Qornet Shehwan Gathering is a mainly Christian coalition of politicians, intellectuals and businessmen who opposed the Syrian military presence in Lebanon.

    For his part, the son and political heir of the slain Rafik al-Hariri has said the anti-Syrian opposition would sweep Lebanon's general elections and indicated that he could lead the government after the ballot.

    Saad al-Hariri, taking over the mantle of his father, predicted on Tuesday the opposition will win 80 to 90 seats in the 128-member parliament.

    In other developments, the head of the Lebanese army intelligence's wiretapping unit has been dismissed, meeting another demand of the opposition.

    A senior military official, speaking on condition of anonymity,  said on Tuesday that Colonel Ghassan Tufeili had been "placed at the disposal" of the army command and that Lieutenant-Colonel Sassine Mureib was expected to replace him.

    "Placed at the disposal" is a term that means the official stepped aside without resigning.

    Tufeili's name was among a list of pro-Syrian security officers whose removal had been a key demand of the opposition for negligence and cover-up in former prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri's killing.

    Tufeili's removal came nearly two weeks before parliamentary elections were scheduled to begin.

    Now only one general targeted by the opposition remains in his post, Brigadier-General Mustafa Hamdan, the commander of the Republican Guard Brigade, who is very close to President Emile Lahoud.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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