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Wednesday, April 11, 2007 Lebanon PM asks UN to mandate Hariri tribunal

Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora Wednesday sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon asking the UN to establish a tribunal to investigate the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri . The anti-Syrian majority in the Lebanon parliament last week over the objections of the country’s pro-Syria opposition. Parliament speaker Nabih Berri , a Syrian ally and opposition leader, has refused to allow a parliamentary 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 insist that some might use the investigation for what they term “political ends.”

The UN tribunal proposal was approved last November by a divided cabinet, but Lahoud has refused to sign off on it. Ban said last week that it is too soon to establish a tribunal by UN Security Council mandate. Instead, he hopes to build a consensus within the Lebanese government.