Beirut to finance its portion of 'Hariri' tribunal

Lebanese PM Mikati says he has already sent his country's portion of the funding for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.

November 30, 2011 14:34
1 minute read.
Saad Harir speaks in front of picture of Rafik

Saad Harir speaks in front of picture of Rafik 311R. (photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir)

BEIRUT - Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati said on Wednesday that his country has financed its portion of a UN-backed court investigating the killing of Rafik al-Hariri, resolving months of political wrangling that threatened to bring down the government.

"Keeping my commitment to not be the prime minister who reneges on Lebanon's international obligations... I sent Lebanon's portion of the funding for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon this morning," Mikati said in a televised speech.

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"I have a firm belief in the principle of establishing truth and justice. It is not acceptable to ignore the issue of the former prime minister and his companion's assassinations."

Mikati had threatened to resign if he could not push through Lebanon's over $30 million portion of funding for the court, which the powerful political and militant group Hezbollah and its allies in cabinet oppose.

Mikati himself was brought to power in January with Hezbollah's support when the last government was toppled in disputes over the controversial tribunal.

The UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon indicted four Hezbollah members over the killing of Hariri, a former prime minister whose convoy was blown up in Beirut in 2005.

Iranian and Syrian-backed Hezbollah denies any involvement and says the court is politicized and pursues an Israeli agenda.

Hezbollah, along with its allies, have blocking power in cabinet with half the seats but Hezbollah softened its tone in recent weeks to avoid a public clash with Mikati.

A Lebanese official told Reuters that in order to go around a cabinet vote but still allow the funding, politicians agreed to send the money through a government relief agency.
"It will be funded directly through the Higher Organization for Aid," the official said, referring to Lebanon's natural disaster and humanitarian relief fund.

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