Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today that the newly designated Lebanese Government should continue to cooperate with the United Nations-backed tribunal set up to try suspects in the 2005 murders of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and 22 others.
“I have been repeatedly stating the position of the Untied Nations: this is an independent international justice system, justice process,” he told a news conference in Davos, Switzerland, where he is attending the World Economic Forum, adding that “nobody, no country, should interfere or obstruct the smooth proceedings of this justice process.”
Lebanon’s previous government, led by Mr. Hariri’s son, Saad, collapsed two weeks ago after 11 Hizbollah and allied ministers resigned, reportedly over the Government’s refusal to cease cooperation with the tribunal, which the media says was about to indict Hizbollah members for the murders.
Earlier this week, Lebanese President Michel Sleiman asked Najib Mikati, who has Hizbollah support according to media reports, to form the new Government.
“I have been very much concerned about this politicizing of this Special Tribunal,” Mr. Ban said. “I hope that the Lebanese people and government will be able to restore the political stability and engage in their social, economic, political development while the accountability process should also progress.”
After meeting with Mr. Mikati in Beirut today, UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Michael Williams said he is “sure that the new government, when it is formed, will maintain good relations with the United Nations and will fully abide by its international obligations.”
The tribunal was set up following a probe by the International Independent Investigation Commission after an earlier UN mission found that Lebanon’s own inquiry into the massive car bombing that killed Mr. Hariri and the others was seriously flawed, and that Syria was primarily responsible for the political tensions that preceded the attack. Last week the court received its first indictment, but the contents remain confidential at this stage.
Mr. Williams said Mr. Mikati underlined his strong support for Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended a month-long war between Israel and the Hizbollah militia in 2006. It also calls for respect for the Blue Line separating Israel and Lebanon, the disarming of all militias in Lebanon, and an end to arms smuggling in the area.