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Unilateral UN Hariri tribunal establishment draws local criticism

[JURIST] Lebanese National Assembly speaker Nabih Berri [official profile] joined Syria Thursday in condemning the passage of UN Security Council Resolution 1757 [PDF text] unilaterally establishing an ad hoc tribunal [JURIST news archive] to investigate and try suspects in the February 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri [JURIST news archive], saying it infringed Lebanese sovereignty and impeded the reconciliation process in Lebanon. The resolution circumvented the Lebanese National Assembly at the request [JURIST report] of Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora [BBC profile] after Siniora said that "all possible means" to ratify a UN tribunal proposal [JURIST report] in the National Assembly had failed. Berri, who has long opposed the Hariri tribunal and had refused to convene the National Assembly for a vote, characterized the passage as a violation of Lebanon's constitution that "[sows] divisions" in Lebanese society. The militant Hezbollah [party website] meanwhile condemned the resolution as being "contrary to the legal rules and the charters and principles of the United Nations and the objectives for which it was established to achieve," adding that it was "illegal and illegitimate at the national and international level."

Saad Hariri, son of the assassinated former prime minister and current leader of ruling March 14 Alliance [Wikipedia backgrounder], meanwhile said in a televised speech that the passage of the resolution was a "victory the world has given to oppressed Lebanon."

The controversial proposal, also opposed [JURIST comment] by pro-Syrian Lebanese President Emile Lahoud [official profile], has been a source of major disagreement in Lebanon's deeply sectarian political arena. In November of last year, the Lebanese cabinet approved a draft plan [JURIST report] for the tribunal despite the resignation of all pro-Syrian cabinet members from the militant Hezbollah and Amal Movement [party website, in Arabic]. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said that Syria will reject [JURIST report] "any cooperation requested from Syria that compromises national sovereignty." AP has more. Reuters has additional coverage. BBC News has additional coverage.

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