04/12/2007, 00.00
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Pressure in favour of international tribunal growing

After Lebanese prime minister writes to UN secretary general demanding the establishment of an international tribunal to judge those responsible for the Hariri murder, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of Russia’s upper chamber accuses Lebanon’s opposition of obstructionism. French President Chirac also calls for the tribunal.

Beirut (AsiaNews) – Pressure for the establishment of an international tribunal to judge those responsible in the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister and several other political murders committed since 2004, which many blame on Syria, is up. Yesterday a Russian legislator, Mikhail Margelov, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the upper chamber of the Russian Parliament, warned Lebanon's opposition against its short-sighted attitude towards the tribunal, the Interfax news agency reported. “The minority . . . by resorting to a forceful and short-sighted approach aims to hamper the work of Parliament and forbid the tribunal from starting its work,” Margelov said.

After meeting Jordan’s King Abdullah in Paris, French President Jacques Chirac also said yesterday that his country remained committed to a fully sovereign and democratic Lebanon. French presidential spokesman Jérôme Bonnafont said that for Mr Chirac the tribunal was important to achieve justice and stop those who use murder as a political weapon.

The issue of the tribunal, which has paralysed political life in the Lebanese capital since December, is now vetted by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

In a letter to Mr Ban sent on Tuesday, Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora asked the secretary general to put the matter before the Security Council saying that was “essential for the safeguarding of liberties and deterring further political assassinations,” the Daily Star reported.

“We are in receipt of the letter from Mr. Siniora and we're studying it," UN deputy spokeswoman Marie Okabe told reporters in New York on Wednesday.

Siniora's press office said that in addition to the letter the premier sent a copy of a petition signed by 70 members of parliament asking Ban to move on the tribunal.

An agreement for the establishment of the tribunal has already been signed by the Lebanese government and the United Nations, but Lebanon’s pro-Syrian president, Émile Lahoud, has refused to countersign it. Similarly, Parliamentary speaker and opposition leader Nabih Berri has refused to convene the National Assembly to approve the agreement until the creation of what he calls a “legitimate” government.

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See also
Who is giving what to whom, Syria or Aoun?
A country in mourning looks to the future with anxiety
Tehran backs Damascus against new UN Resolution
Welch leaves Beirut confirming US support for Siniora and international tribunal
Ban Ki-moon names selection panel for Hariri tribunal


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