Politicians reach deal to save Lebanese government
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Lebanese politicians announced Wednesday they have reached a deal to fund a UN-backed court investigating the 2005 killing of statesman Rafik al-Hariri. Controversy over payment of court costs had threatened to collapse the Lebanese government.
REUTERS - Lebanese politicians have agreed a deal to prevent the collapse of Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s government over the funding of a U.N.-backed court investigating the killing of statesman Rafik al-Hariri, a Lebanese official said on Wednesday.
“An agreement has been reached for funding the court without having to put the matter to the cabinet or parliament,” the official told Reuters, declining to be named.
Mikati came to power in January with backing from the powerful political and militant movement Hezbollah, which rejects the U.N. tribunal as biased and opposes funding.
Last week, he threatened to resign if he could not reach a deal to pay Lebanon’s share - over $30 million - of the costs of the United Nations court.
“It will be funded directly through the Higher Organisation for Aid,” the official said, referring to Lebanon’s natural disaster and humanitarian relief fund.
Such a mechanism allows funding to go around cabinet and thereby avoid government collapse. Hezbollah and its allies, who have blocking power with half the seats, oppose the Hariri court.
The prosecutor for the U.N. Special Tribunal for Lebanon indicted four Hezbollah members over the killing of Hariri, a former prime minister, whose convoy was blown up in Beirut in 2005.
Iranian and Syrian-backed Hezbollah denies any role in the attack and has called for Lebanon to cut links with the court, saying it is politicised and pursues an Israeli agenda.
Hezbollah toppled the previous government in a dispute over the court, but has softened its tone in recent weeks to avoid a public clash with Mikati.
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