By Nafez Qawas
BEIRUT: Speaker Nabih Berri voiced optimism Sunday that the elections would take place on June 7 as scheduled and bring Lebanon closer to "more democracy and dialogue." "We are all on the same page and there is no alternative to consensus and mutual understanding," Berri said during a banquet thrown in his honor by Lebanon's ambassador in the Sultanate of Oman.
Berri is currently on a visit to Oman to attend the meetings of the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union Executive Committee.
He reassured the Lebanese that the elections "will take place on time despite rumors of possible postponement and concerns that the military establishment will not be able to maintain security during the one-day polls." He said risk assessment "will be left for security and military leaders."
Berri also accused some politicians of "bribery and obstructing the constitutional council to prevent it from reviewing past breaches."
On Saturday, Berri praised MP Walid Jumblatt's "courage and better sense of judgment," An-Nahar newspaper reported on Sunday.
In an interview with As-Safir newspaper published Saturday, Jumblatt said there was no rush to discuss the issue of Hizbullah's arsenal and that this could be "discussed under more favorable circumstances."
The speaker said "it was not strange that Jumblatt has mastered the arts of the political game in Lebanon." "There is no alternative to a government of national unity. Let us resolve our disputes within the framework of such a government instead of [taking the battle to] the streets," he said. "This is what will happen after June 7."
The speaker said that during last week's national dialogue he had "assured the participants that they will be part of the next unity government," in case the opposition wins the majority of parliamentary seats.
Also espousing reconciliatory rhetoric, parliamentary majority leader MP Saad he did not "seek revenge" through the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, but only wanted justice.
"Lebanon has suffered political assassinations in recent years, and for a number of reasons the judicial system has not been able to hold the criminals accountable," the Future movement leader said in an interview with the Abu Dhabi television channel late Saturday.
Hariri dismissed worries that a deal with Syria could come at the expense of the tribunal, adding: "We want diplomatic relations with Syria, and we have named a Lebanese ambassador to Damascus."
On the recent warming of Saudi Arabian-Syrian ties, Hariri said the convergence of Saudi Arabian and Syrian interests served the stability and security of Lebanon and was not tied to the tribunal.
Hariri, the son of slain former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, said that although he has accused Syria of committing political crimes in Lebanon, he would accept whatever sentence the tribunal issued.
"We have no problem with Syria and the Syrian people as long as the Syrian regime treats Lebanon as an independent state," Hariri added.
Hariri revealed he has been conducting "behind the scenes" talks with Hizbullah to discuss the party's reservations on a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the government and the Special Tribunal.
The Cabinet postponed Thursday discussion of the MoU for the second week in a row after opposition ministers argued that the third clause in the draft text of the memorandum would "expose Lebanon and subject every Lebanese to scrutiny."
The memorandum proposed by the Justice Ministry seeks to regulate relations between the Lebanese judiciary and the tribunal's general prosecutor. The Cabinet agreed to form a committee to study the issue
Hariri expected "an imminent agreement" on the issue.
In other news, Prime Minister Fouad Siniora said Saturday Lebanon and Yemen shared the same ideas and principles in keeping the Middle East region free from weapons of mass destruction and the proliferation of nuclear arms. Siniora, who was on an official two-day visit to Yemen, made his comments Saturday in an official address to his Yemeni counterpart Ali Mohammad Mjoor.
He pointed the finger at Israel as the sole state in the region that continues to practice the proliferation of nuclear arms, saying that this is a bad omen for the entire region in launching an endless arms race that threatens the Middle East and world peace.
Foreign Minister Fawzi Salloukh, Health Minister Mohammad Jawad Khalife and Minister of State Khaled Qabbani accompanied the prime minister to Yemen.
Separately, Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) leader MP Michel Aoun said Saturday the Lebanese had to choose between "a corrupt path and the path of change and reform."
Speaking during his party's annual dinner, Aoun commented on the policies of successive governments and their negative impact on Lebanese citizens.
"There is no doubt that what we are experiencing today is the accumulation of the work of successive governments since 1992, and specifically the manipulation of the currency market and loans and high taxation ... [which led to] the disappearance of the middle class and increased poverty and unemployment," he said.
"How long must we wait for life's basic needs, including water and electricity to be made available to us?" Aoun asked.
Aoun also defended his alliance with Hizbullah, saying it has "saved and maintained stability and tranquility in the fiercest war waged by Israel against Lebanon," in reference to the summer 2006 war.
Meanwhile, Hizbullah's number two Sheikh Naim Qassem said his party was strong, "and no one can impose their conditions on us."
Speaking during a political rally, Qassem said Hizbullah "does not expect much" from the new US administration.
"In the coming period you will witness a different American or European language toward us," Qassem said.
He added that the West will no longer wage wars or use threats against Hizbullah.
"However, today we shall witness a different language that speaks positively about Hizbullah, about the possibility of dealing with us and holding a relationship with us as well. We accept this new language and welcome it, because now they know that we represent the people, that we work for what is right," he said.
"Now they know that forcing us into accepting political choices we don't want is impossible," he added.
Regarding the June 7 parliamentary elections Qassem said that Hizbullah was eager for the elections to take place. He predicted that the elections would not produce an "overwhelming parliamentary majority or a crushed minority."
Qassem added that no one could govern the country with a small majority, particularly when Lebanon is a complex sectarian society.
Echoing Berri, he said that a national unity government following the elections would be the best model for Lebanon.
"Simply put, Lebanon does not resemble any other country in the world. Hence any solution in Lebanon must be creative, "he added.
Background - خلفية
On 13 December 2005 the Government of the Lebanese Republic requested the UN to establish a tribunal of an international character to try all those who are alleged responsible for the attack of 14 february 2005 that killed the former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and 22 others. The United Nations and the Lebanese Republic consequently negotiated an agreement on the establishment of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.
Chronology - Chronologie
Détenus - Detainees - المعتقلون
International Criminal Justice
Videos - فيديو
- Now Lebanon : Crowds Gather to Show Support for International Tribunal, August 4, 2010
- IRIS Institute:La creation du TSL est-elle justifiee? - June 18, 2009
- Al Manar : Interview with Ali Hajj right after his release - April 30, 2009
- Al Manar: Summary of Jamil Al Sayyed's press conference, April 30, 2009
- AFP, Freed Lebanese prisoner speaks out - April 30, 2009
- OTV : exclusive interview with Jamil Sayyed - April 30, 2009
- Al Jazeeera English : Crowds celebrate Hariri suspects'release - April 29, 2009
- OTV : report about Ali el Hajj - March 18, 2009
Liens - Links - مواقع ذات صلة
Frederic Megret, McGill University, 2008. A special tribunal for Lebanon: the UN Security Council and the emancipation of International Criminal Justice
International Center for Transitional Justice Handbook on the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, April 10, 2008
Conférence de presse de Nicolas Michel, 19 Sept 2007
Conférence de presse de Nicolas Michel, 27 Mars 2008
Département d'Etat américain
* 2009 Human Rights report
* 2008 Human Rights report
* 2007 Human Rights report
* 2006 Human Rights report
* 2005 Human Rights report
ICG - International Crisis Group
The Hariri Tribunal: Separate the Political and the Judicial, 19 July, 2007. [Fr]
HCSS - Hague Centre for strategic studies
Hariri, Homicide and the Hague
Human Rights Watch
* Hariri Tribunal can restore faith in law, 11 may 2006
* Letter to Secretary-General Kofi Annan, april 27, 2006
* STL insufficient without wider action to combat impunity
* Liban : le Tribunal de tous les dangers, mai 2007
* Jeu de mecano
Courrier de l'ACAT - Wadih Al Asmar
Le Tribunal spécial pour le Liban : entre espoir et inquiétude
La justice penale internationale pour le Liban : bienfait ou malediction?
Nadim Shedadi and Elizabeth Wilmshurt, Chatham House
The Special Tribunal for Lebanon : the UN on Trial?, July 2007
Issam Michael Saliba, Law Library of Congress
International Tribunals, National Crimes and the Hariri Assassination : a novel development in International Criminal Law, June 2007
Mona Yacoubian, Council on Foreign Relations
Linkages between Special UN Tribunal, Lebanon, and Syria, June 1, 2007