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Gemayel Denies Reports He Threatened to Resign

May 18, 1987|Associated Press

BEIRUT — Lebanese President Amin Gemayel denied Sunday that he has threatened to resign, according to a report by a Lebanese radio station.

Gemayel, 45, was quoted by the Voice of Justice station as saying: "I shall serve out my term to the last minute. I shall not quit a minute before that or stay on a minute after."

The Voice of Justice is operated by the president's wing of the right-wing Christian Falangist Party.

Term Expires in 1988

Gemayel's six-year term expires Sept. 23, 1988, and Lebanon's constitution bars presidents from seeking a second term.

The broadcast said that Gemayel, a Maronite Christian, made the vow to continue in office to visitors who called on him at his Baabda presidential palace after the reported resignation threat.

On Saturday, the Voice of Lebanon, the official radio of the Falangist Party in Christian East Beirut, and the independent Beirut newspaper An Nahar reported that Gemayel had threatened to resign unless Christian and Muslim leaders cooperated to resolve a two-week-old Cabinet crisis.

The crisis was sparked by the resignation of Syrian-backed Sunni Muslim Premier Rashid Karami. However, Karami refused to follow his announcement with a letter of resignation to the president, which is required by law before the president can accept the resignation and appoint a successor.

Frustrated by Failure

Karami reportedly indicated that his decision was prompted by the failure of his Cabinet of five Christians and five Muslims to cope with a worsening economic situation created by 12 years of civil war. Christian and Muslim militias have been fighting each other, and rival Muslim militias and Palestinian guerrillas have also been engaged in combat.

In another development, Israeli warplanes staged a mock air raid on Palestinian refugee camps on the outskirts of Lebanon's southern port city of Sidon, drawing anti-aircraft fire from guerrilla bases, police reported.

Crash Sound Barrier

They said the low-flying jets broke the sound barrier over Sidon and its Ein el Hilwa and Miye ou Miye refugee camps, sending sonic booms sweeping through the area, but there were no bombing or rocket sorties. Police also said there was no indication that any of the planes were hit by the anti-aircraft fire.

Earlier, in West Beirut overnight, there were four dynamite explosions. Police said no injuries were reported and no structures damaged.

There have been similar attacks since Syria deployed more than 7,000 troops in the Muslim sector of the divided capital on Feb. 22 to end three years of militia anarchy. Some rival Muslim militias resent the Syrians' presence.

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