Lebanon backs Hariri tribunal

Lebanon’s government has adopted a United Nations document for the creation of an international tribunal to try suspects in the murder case.

Mr Hariri was killed last year in a bombing in Beirut that sparked protests leading to the departure of Syrian troops from Lebanon after almost three decades.

Prime Minister Fuad Siniora said earlier that his cabinet unanimously approved the document to establish the court into the murder which has been blamed on Syrian officials and their Lebanese allies.

Prime Minister Siniora said the government approval was meant “to reject and confront attempts to assassinate Lebanon … and to tell the criminals that we will not give up our right to achieve justice despite the difficulties.”

The US envoy to the United Nations said “We are prepared to move quickly in the Security Council to approve the tribunal once we receive formal word from the government of Lebanon.”

The approval comes despite a government crisis sparked by the resignation of six ministers including two from the powerful militant group, Hezbollah.

On Saturday, six Shiite Muslim ministers quit after Mr Siniora vowed to go ahead with the cabinet meeting to discuss the UN document for the tribunal.

The row followed the failure of a week of national roundtable talks on forming a unity government, and months of political stalemate sparked by disputes between the pro- and anti-Syrian camps.

Anti-Syrian members of the government have accused the ministers of creating the row to block the tribunal vote.

An ongoing United Nations probe into the murder has implicated senior officials from Syria in conjunction with Lebanese accomplices.

Damascus strongly denies any connection with the Hariri killing.

US Ambassador John Bolton has urged Syria to respect Beirut’s decision.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the root of the political crisis brewing in Lebanon was because “some (people) are very, very nervous – including in Damascus – about where this tribunal issue is going to head”.

“I can’t imagine, other than they’re nervous about themselves ending up before this tribunal or their friends ending up before this tribunal, why they would want to stand in the way of finding out who was responsible for the assassination of a former Lebanese prime minister,” he said.