Lebanese PM would resign over lack of funding for STL, not over sanctions

Al-Akhbar is currently going through a transitional phase whereby the English website is available for Archival purposes only. All new content will be published in Arabic on the main website (www.al-akhbar.com).

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Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati arrives to preside over a UN Security Council meeting on "The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestine question" at the United Nations headquarters in New York, 27 September 2011. (Photo: AFP - Emmanuel Dunand)

Published Friday, November 25, 2011

Prime Minister Najib Mikati threatened to resign on Thursday should the cabinet refuse to fund the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL).

Mikati told Al-Akhbar that if he were to resign, it would be due to the ministers' refusal to fund the tribunal and not over the prospect of sanctions.

Under the tribunal protocol, Lebanon is responsible for meeting 49 percent of the costs of the STL, which amounts to US$35 million this year.

Mikati told Al-Akhbar that he asked the tribunal’s registrar, Herman von Hebel, when Lebanon had been made aware of the tribunal's funding situation.

“I asked, when did the tribunal request funding, and he gave me a letter sent to [then PM] Saad Hariri from the tribunal at the beginning of December 2010 requesting the funding within 30 days.”

Mikati asked why the tribunal was not paid on time, the STL registrar said that there had been a deal made between Saudi Arabia and Syria that postponed the payment.

Hezbollah accuses the STL of being a political tool of the US and Israel, and is opposed to Lebanon funding the UN-backed court.

“Hezbollah will not change their position,” Mikati said. “If [the tribunal] is funded, then I have committed to protecting the resistance. If Lebanon is strong then the resistance is strong, and vice versa. If we lapse on funding the tribunal, then we are serving Israel.”

Sources in Michel Aoun's Free Patriotic Movement told Al-Akhbar that the issue of funding the tribunal is “not the end of the world.”

The tribunal is probing the assassination of former PM Rafiq Hariri, and has indicted four members of Hezbollah back in August. No arrests have been made.

(Al-Akhbar, AFP)

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