The United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon today reiterated the need for the formation without delay of a functioning government, noting the many issues that remain to be addressed by the authorities.
“There are many concerns of importance to ordinary Lebanese people that need to be addressed, irrespective of their confession or their politics. These include social issues, economic issues but also security concerns,” Michael Williams told reporters in Beirut following a meeting with the Speaker of Parliament, Nabih Berri.
UN officials, including Mr. Williams and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, have been calling on Lebanon’s Prime Minister-designate, Najib Miqati, and other leaders to quickly form a new government.
The former government, led by Saad Hariri, collapsed in January after 11 Hizbollah and allied ministers resigned, reportedly over its refusal to cease cooperation with the UN-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon that is investigating the 2005 assassination of Mr. Hariri’s father, Rafiq, and 22 others.
In a recent report relating to Lebanon, Mr. Ban warned that the absence of a functioning government for several months “has created a power and security vacuum of which extremist and armed groups could take advantage, in an already fragile and polarized situation.”
Mr. Williams and Mr. Berri also discussed the recent developments in the Arab world and the changes that have been taking place, as protesters across North Africa and the Middle East take to the streets demanding greater rights and freedoms.
They also discussed maritime issues, reiterating the UN’s position that Lebanon is fully entitled to take the necessary measures to explore and exploit such resources within its territorial waters.
“This is one more reason, a very important reason, why a new government should be formed as soon as possible,” said Mr. Williams.
Meanwhile, Terje Roed-Larsen, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Security Council resolution 1559, which deals with Lebanon, briefed Council members in a closed-door session on Mr. Ban’s latest report on the issue.
In a related development, the Prosecutor of the Special Tribunal, Daniel Bellemare, filed an amended indictment today, replacing the indictment of 11 March 2011, to include substantive new elements that had been unavailable until recently.
“The Prosecutor does not intend to make further amendments to the indictment, unless ordered to do so by the Pre-Trial Judge. Other indictments could, however, be filed in the future if warranted by the evidence,” UN spokesperson Farhan Haq told reporters in New York.
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.