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11/25/2006
SINIORA GOVERNMENT APPROVES TRIBUNAL AMID QUESTIONS OF LEGALITY
CATEGORY: General

The government of Prime Minister Siniora has approved the International Tribunal that will try the perpetrators of the assassination of Rafiq Hariri despite questions about the legality of their actions:

The Cabinet of Prime minister Fouad Siniora has defied its pro-Syrian opponents Saturday and gave its final approval to a U.N.-created international court to try suspects in the Hariri assassination.

Prime Minster Siniora has earlier offered to delay the meeting if the Hezbollah and Amal ministers agree to return to the government but they refused.

The legal morass created by this approval is confusing and without precedent in Lebanese history. Parliamentary Speaker Nabih Berri, who calls the action “unconstitutional,” outlines some of the legal quagmire:

Berri said the emergency meeting called by anti-Syrian Prime Minister Fouad Saniora breached the constitution.

“This meeting is not in conformity with the constitution and this government is de facto,” said Berri, whose pro-Syrian Amal party pulled its ministers out of the cabinet two weeks ago along with those of Hizbullah.

“Under Article 52 of the constitution, an emergency meeting of the cabinet must have the approval of the president of the republic,” he said, in reference to pro-Syrian head of state Emile Lahoud.

Berri had also dismissed as unconstitutional a previous meeting of the cabinet on November 13 which agreed to submit the court blueprint to the U.N. Security Council for the endorsement it gave on Tuesday.

He said then that the rump anti-Syrian cabinet left after the departure of the six pro-Syrian ministers breached Lebanon’s national pact, the unwritten arrangement providing for all of the country’s myriad religious and ethnic groups to be represented in government.

The need for ratification by Lebanon’s pro-Syrian head of state, President Emile Lahoud, is also the subject of heated debate between Damascus’s friends and foes.

Pro-government leaders argue that the constitution gives ministers the authority to override the president if he refuses to ratify a treaty agreed by both the cabinet and parliament twice in the space of a month.

But opponents — and some lawyers — argue that that would be a breach of the national pact and therefore unconstitutional. The unwritten national pact provides for all of the country’s myriad religious and ethnic groups to be represented in government.

Siniora at first refused to accept the resignations of the Shia ministers. This is how he was able to pass the initial enabling law that was then sent back to the UN for final approval. With that approval given on Thursday, it is now up to the government to send the measure along to Parliament where it awaits a very uncertain future.

Berri appears to have settled into the position that the Tribunal cannot be approved without the presence of the Shia ministers. This will probably mean that he will not even call Parliament into session. This will bring about a confrontation with the March 14th Forces. If the governing coalition attempts to convene the Parliament without Berri’s approval and then strong arm passage of the Tribunal, this would no doubt precipitate a crisis where wholesale resignations by Hizbullah, Amal, and Aoun’s FPM deputies would ensue and totally delegitimze Siniora’s government and March 14th.

For this reason, Siniora’s next move is uncertain. Blocked by Berri in Parliament, he could ask the President to call the legislature into session but that’s a non starter considering the fact that President Lahoud doesn’t want the Tribunal to convene any more than President Assad of Syria. For the moment, the Tribunal appears to be stillborn.

All eyes now turn to the streets where Hizbuallah will be next week. The outpouring of support for the government at the funeral of Pierre Gemayel not only didn’t impress Nasrallah but also barely affected his plans to bring down the government “within a month:”

Ghalib Abu Zaynab, a Hizbollah politburo member, speaking in the group’s southern Beirut stronghold, said: “As far as street protests are concerned, we have postponed these as we are waiting to see what will happen in the coming days. But the protests will go ahead, and we hope they will achieve our political aims within a month.”

He said tactics would include mass street demonstrations, strikes, and “other legal and peaceful means of achieving our goals. We gave blood for independence but we want true independence, not influenced by outside parties, and this government is a puppet of the United States, run by Jeffrey Feltman [the American ambassador to Lebanon].”

March 14th had called for a 2 day general strike following the funeral, asking all businesses to close up and cease activity. This tactic apparently is a flop:

Most businesses in Lebanon’s capital resumed regular operations on Friday, ignoring a joint call from major business groups for a two-day strike across all commercial sectors. Business leaders had hoped the move might break the political deadlock over Prime Minister Fouad Siniora’s Cabinet and discourage rival parties from continuing to threaten street protests.

Though supportive of the strike in principle, most merchants, industrialists, and traders were not in the financial position to adhere to such a demand, the head of the Hotel, Cafe, and Restaurant Syndicate said.

“The decision was taken at a bad time,” Paul Ariss told The Daily Star. “It’s the end of the month and restaurants need the extra cash to pay salaries. We requested by SMS and telephone last night that everyone comply with decision, but let’s just say people were not enthusiastic about it, because they need to make some money.”

It’s hard to gauge whether this is an indication of a flagging of support for Siniora’s government or whether it is a reflection of practical realities as indicated in the article. It could also mean people are tired of the confrontation and wish a resolution.

Meanwhile, Hizbullah continues to plan - with the help of their friends in Tehran:

[T]he Iranian Revolutionary Guard and Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) are using the Iranian embassies in Damascus and Beirut as command and control centers — an allegation that was also confirmed to TIME by Israeli military sources. Obaid says there appear to be direct communications links between the Iranians and Hizballah, via Hizballah officers working inside the Iranian embassy in Beirut, and Iranian officers in the field with Hizballah fighters; in the past, some Middle East analysts have rejected the popular notion that Hizballah takes direct orders from Iran.

It is apparent that Tehran and Hizbullah are moving in for the kill. The next few weeks will be painful to watch for the friends of Lebanese democracy.

By: Rick Moran at 2:24 pm
5 Responses to “SINIORA GOVERNMENT APPROVES TRIBUNAL AMID QUESTIONS OF LEGALITY”
  1. 1
    Hot Air » Blog Archive » Lebanese cabinet flips Assad the bird, endorses UN tribunal for Hariri murder Pinged With:
    5:03 pm 

    [...] So what’s the next move in Lebanon? Confrontation, probably: Berri appears to have settled into the position that the Tribunal cannot be approved without the presence of the Shia [i.e., Hezbollah] ministers. This will probably mean that he will not even call Parliament into session. This will bring about a confrontation with the March 14th Forces. If the governing coalition attempts to convene the Parliament without Berri’s approval and then strong arm passage of the Tribunal, this would no doubt precipitate a crisis where wholesale resignations by Hizbullah, Amal, and Aoun’s FPM deputies would ensue and totally delegitimze Siniora’s government and March 14th. [...]

  2. 2
    A Blog For All Trackbacked With:
    8:37 pm 

    Boiling Point

    Hizbullah is threatening to destroy Lebanon again. They’re considering going ahead with their demonstrations that they wisely held off when Pierre Gemayel was assassinated last week. Hizbullah, along with Assad in Syria, doesn’t want the investigatio…

  3. 3
    SlimGuy Said:
    11:11 pm 

    The dozen or so Lebanese bloggers linked over at Truth Laid Bare are giving good insight into the mood and the power plays and political shape shifting going on.

    The mood in understandably not good.

    The thing that stands out in all this situation, is you get miles of column inches of issues and insights into Lebanon involvement, Israel involvement , France, the UN and US measures but Syria is a media black hole. The only thing you get is the Iran middleman issue.

    As far as the media goes Syria is a non issue. You have to work the net to realy try to get a feel for what the country is , how it is made up and what makes it tick.

    It is a player here in a lot of issues on the international stage, but in depth analysis of it is like it somehow fell of the globe.

  4. 4
    Doug Ross @ Journal Trackbacked With:
    11:19 am 

    2006 Terrorcrat All-Star Cards: Collect ‘em all!

    Few collectibles hold the promise of a dramatic increase in value. These trading cards are no exception, but that shouldn’t stop you from mortgaging the house and selling the cat to acquire as many as you can…

  5. 5
    hoa mai Trackbacked With:
    9:53 am 

    hoa mai

    gimmemoney 126075 This site is about hoa mai.

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