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Tuesday, April 03, 2007 Lebanon parliament petitions UN to mandate Hariri tribunal

The anti-Syrian majority in the Lebanon parliament on Tuesday approved a petition asking UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to create a tribunal to investigate the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri . Members of the parliamentary majority say that Syria was responsible for the assassination and that its allies in the Lebanese government are stalling the investigation. Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, a Syrian ally and opposition leader, has refused to allow a vote on the tribunal until the idea is approved by President Emile Lahoud [official website], another pro-Syria politician. The President and the opposition say they agree to the tribunal in principle, but worry that some might use the investigation for political ends.

Lebanon’s current tribunal proposal was > approved last November by a divided cabinet, but Lahoud has refused to sign off on the proposal. For his part, Ki-moon said last week that it is too soon to construct a tribunal by UN Security Council mandate. Instead, he hopes to build a consensus within the Lebanese government.