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Lebanon's Political Opposition Denounces UN Tribunal

  • VOA News

Lebanon's political opposition is criticizing the U.N. Security Council's decision to establish a tribunal to prosecute suspects in the killing of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

In a statement on Thursday, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said the Security Council ignored Lebanon's constitution when it voted Wednesday to create the tribunal.

Berri is an ally of the pro-Syrian Hezbollah. He had refused to convene a parliamentary session to ratify the establishment of a tribunal.

Syrian state-run media and Hezbollah also denounced the UN decision on Thursday. Hezbollah called it a violation of Lebanon's sovereignty.

But Mr. Hariri's son and political heir, Saad, as well as Prime Minister Fuad Siniora, said Wednesday that the resolution was a victory for Lebanon.

Rafik Hariri was an anti-Syrian political figure. A bomb blast killed him and 22 others in Beirut in February 2005.

A UN investigation implicated Syrian officials, but Syria has denied involvement.

On Wednesday, Mr. Hariri's supporters welcomed the UN's decision. They set off fireworks in celebration and gathered at his grave.

Ten Security Council members voted in favor of the resolution to create the tribunal -- one more than needed for adoption.

Permanent council members Russia and China abstained, as did Qatar, Indonesia and South Africa.

The resolution goes into effect on June 10th.

The US ambassador to the United Nations, Zalmay Khalilzad, said the tribunal is an important step. He called the vote a demonstration of the principle that there will be no impunity for political assassinations.

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