[JURIST] Lebanese President Emile Lahoud [official profile] formally announced Saturday that he would not approve the Lebanese cabinet's latest endorsement [JURIST report] of a plan to establish a UN-supported international tribunal [JURIST news archive] to try suspects accused of assassinating former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in February 2005. A statement from Lahoud's office called on the cabinet to take up the proposal again "when there is a legitimate and constitutional government." Lahoud labeled the cabinet's vote on the measure "null and void" soon after it was made last month and rejected an earlier cabinet approval [JURIST reports] of the tribunal as "unconstitutional" after all the cabinet's Shiite lawmakers resigned before the vote. The Shiites have not rejoined the government and the Hezbollah movement has recently mounted large demonstrations against it.
In an exclusive statement for JURIST last week, Lahoud said:
The Lebanese constitution stipulates clearly that Lebanon is based on consensus and on coexistence, and therefore the cabinet of [Prime Minister] Siniora breached the national pact and therefore in our view it is "inexistent".The Hariri tribunal measure requires the support of the president as well as the Lebanese Parliament before it is deemed formally accepted. 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. Preliminary reports by the UN commission investigating the Hariri killing have implicated Syrian officials [JURIST report]. Lahoud is widely regarded as pro-Syrian. Reuters has more.
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.