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French Version


Siniora insists Cabinet approval of tribunal 'was not a provocation'

Prime Minister Fouad Siniora's Cabinet held an extraordinary session over the weekend to approve the final draft of an international tribunal to try suspects in the assassination of former Premier Rafik Hariri.

The Cabinet also referred the assassination of Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel, to the Judicial Council, the highest trial court in Lebanon.

"The Cabinet decided to approve the agreement between the United Nations and Lebanon regarding the creation of a special court for Lebanon," Information Minister Ghazi Aridi announced after the Cabinet session on Saturday.

"Ministers also decided to forward the document to Parliament as a bill for approval," he added.

The session was held at Cabinet's temporary location at the Social and Economic Council in Downtown Beirut in the absence of the six resigned ministers.

"We [ministers] hoped that all ministers were present in order to spare Lebanon further internal divisions," Aridi said.

Earlier this month, five Hizbullah and Amal ministers, as well a minister allied with President Emile Lahoud, resigned from Cabinet.

At the start of the session, ministers observed a minute of silence for Gemayel, who was shot dead last Tuesday in Jdeideh, north of Beirut.

"Siniora insisted the approval of the tribunal was not a provocation against anyone ... it aims at protecting the Lebanese," Aridi said in a statement.

"Our decision is in fact based on a Lebanese unanimity over the creation of this tribunal and responds to the will of the Lebanese who are yearning to protect their country, bolster its democratic freedoms and national security and bring it out of the cycle of killings and assassinations," Aridi quoted Siniora as saying.

"No matter how deep political divisions are, the international tribunal is aimed at protecting Lebanon and all Lebanese figures," Aridi said.

"We are all called to surpass personal interests and serve national ones," he added.

Aridi called for an "open, constructive and honest dialogue among all political parties" to resolve the current crisis.

Aridi said that Siniora had offered to put off the Cabinet vote if an agreement were reached with Speaker Nabih Berri over the tribunal. "Unfortunately, no agreement was reached because each side has stuck to its position," Aridi said.

Beirut 27-11-2006
Redaction
The Daily Star



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