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Lebanon president rejects Hariri tribunal approval

[JURIST] Lebanese President Emile Lahoud [official profile] Wednesday rejected his cabinet's approval [JURIST report] of a UN draft proposal [JURIST report] for an international judicial tribunal to try suspects in the February 2005 assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri [JURIST news archive]. Lahoud said the measure was invalid because in the midst of other domestic political turmoil all five Shiite ministers had resigned prior to the vote and the Lebanese constitution [text] requires that the cabinet include representatives from all religious groups in the country. Lahoud also called the approval unconstitutional because he had not endorsed the vote [JURIST report], and sent a letter to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan [official profile] refusing to accept the outcome as binding on the government of Lebanon.

The UN's most recent plans for the tribunal have not been released to the public, but the tribunal is expected to be based outside Lebanon and will use a combination of Lebanese and international judges and law to make its decision. Previous reports by the UN's Hariri investigatory commission [UN materials] implicated Syrian officials [JURIST report] in the assassination, accomplished in a massive explosion on the Beirut waterfront that killed Hariri and 22 others. The UN's authority to help Lebanon establish the tribunal comes from UN Security Council Resolution 1644 [text]. BBC News has more.

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