Lebanon News

Deal on STL policy statement article reached: source

BEIRUT: An agreement on the text of the policy statement article dealing with the controversial Special Tribunal for Lebanon has been reached, a senior political source told The Daily Star Wednesday.

The source said the agreement had been hammered out Tuesday night at a meeting between Prime Minister Najib Mikati and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri. The source did not elaborate on the details of the agreed text.

Contacts are ongoing with Berri, Hezbollah and MP Walid Jumblatt “to reach a mutual formula” on the matter of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, Mikati told reporters Wednesday, according to the National News Agency.

Mikati added that such a formula would be on the basis of “Lebanon’s adherence to international resolutions, not taking any steps that puts Lebanon in danger while at the same time protecting Lebanon’s internal [set-up], maintaining the peace and safeguarding it from any attempts to deepen the cleavage between the Lebanese.”

The U.N.-backed court has been a point of contention between Mikati and Hezbollah, which has slammed the court probing the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri as an “Israeli-U.S. project” aimed at targeting the resistance and fomenting strife.

An indictment by the STL is widely believed to name members of Hezbollah.

Diplomatic and judicial sources told The Daily Star Tuesday that the international court would finalize its indictment next week. The indictment, they added, would contain the name of a Hezbollah commander.

Speaking to reporters at the Grand Serail Wednesday, Mikati said he took a balanced approach regarding the matter of the STL, adding: “I do not approach the subject of the tribunal from the point of defending one group [to the exclusion] of others.”

Mikati, who is coming under heavy pressure from the March 14 coalition and the United States and other Western countries to uphold the STL, said “Lebanon cannot exit from international legitimacy, especially given that it is a founding member of the United Nations and a member of the Security Council. However, we as Lebanese need to address all issues in a call manner.”

The predominant March 8 Cabinet of Mikati was formed on June 13 after almost five months since the collapse of the national unity government of Hariri’s son, Saad. March 8 ministers resigned from Saad Hariri's Cabinet in mid-January over a political crisis caused by the STL.

In his talks with reporters Wednesday, Mikati also stressed that the Constitution would be his guide in the event his team failed to complete its task of drafting the ministerial statement within the specified deadline.

A 12-member committee ministerial committee has a deadline of July 13 to complete the policy statement before it is put for a vote of confidence in Parliament.

“If we do not complete the ministerial statement by the deadline then I will take the steps in accordance with my adherence to the Constitution and my patriotic convictions,” Mikati told reporters at the Grand Serail when asked about reports that he was on a one month notice to form the policy statement.

Berri warned earlier Wednesday that Mikati’s government would fall if it exceeded the July 13 deadline without Parliament approval of the Cabinet’s ministerial statement.

At the Grand Serail, the prime minister also dismissed reports he had met in recent days with Hezbollah head Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.

“Contacts with the Hezbollah leadership is ongoing but I have not met with Sayyed Hassan Nassrallah since the Cabinet formation.”

 

 

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