Hezbollah to block financing for Hariri tribunal

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
September 29, 2010 23:10

1 minute read.



Hizbullah will use its position in government to try to block Lebanon's funding for the UN court investigating the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, the group's spokesman said Wednesday.

Hizbullah's leader has said the tribunal looking into Hariri's death could indict some of the Iranian-backed group's members, fueling the country's worst political crisis in years. Hizbullah contends the tribunal has been poisoned by witnesses who have given false information.

The indictments could be issued as early as next month.

"You know our position on the tribunal, so we cannot agree to finance it," Hizbolluh spokesman Ibrahim Moussawi told The Associated Press on Wednesday when asked if his party will try to block the funding in Lebanon's budget.

Lebanon pays 49 percent of the tribunal's costs, with other UN member states providing the remainder.

Hizbolluh has a key role in the country's fragile national unity government, which is led by the slain leader's son — Prime Minister Saad Hariri — who heads a Western-backed coalition. The Cabinet has delayed discussions on the 2011 draft budget as lawmakers debate funding for the tribunal.

Hizbolluh could unify the opposition to stop the funding. According to the resolution that created the tribunal, other countries would step in if Lebanon failed to provide its share. Still, such a decision would be a strong message that support for the tribunal is lagging.

Despite opposition to the court, Prime Minister Saad Hariri and his supporters insist the tribunal will go forward.

The bombing that killed Rafik Hariri and 22 other people along Beirut's Mediterranean waterfront on Feb. 14, 2005, was one of the most dramatic political assassinations the Middle East has seen. A billionaire businessman, Hariri was Lebanon's most prominent politician after the 15-year civil war ended in 1990.


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