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Lebanon president insists cabinet approval of Hariri court 'unconstitutional'

[JURIST] Lebanese President Emile Lahoud [official website] Friday reiterated his rejection [JURIST comment] of the Lebanese cabinet's approval [JURIST report] of a measure that would establish a UN-supported international tribunal [JURIST news archive] to try suspects accused of assassinating former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, telling JURIST that he "considered the cabinet of [Prime Minister Fouad] Siniora's vote on the second draft for establishing the tribunal as both 'unconstitutional and illegitimate', simply because the cabinet lost its legitimacy after a main sect 'the Shiites' withdrew its ministers."

In a statement sent exclusively to JURIST, Lahoud said:

The Lebanese constitution stipulates clearly that Lebanon is based on consensus and on coexistence, and therefore the cabinet of Siniora breached the national pact and therefore in our view it is "inexistent".

Moreover, the cabinet has no right according to the constitution to ratify any international treaty. Article 52 of the Lebanese constitution, states clearly that the president has the sole power, to discuss, and ratify any international treaty, after coordinating with the Prime Minister. Only then would the cabinet be allowed to see the draft of the treaty.
The measure was approved by the UN Security Council [JURIST report] last week after the assassination of Lebanese Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel; the Lebanese cabinet sent it on to Lahoud for approval [JURIST report] on Monday. The cabinet must also secure the backing of the Lebanese Parliament for the measure before Lebanon can be deemed to have formally accepted it. Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, head of the Shiite Amal party, has already expressed agreement with Lahoud's view that the current cabinet make-up is unconstitutional.

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