Hariri supporters celebrate as U.N. OKs international tribunal
The U.N. Security Council voted Wednesday to unilaterally set up an international tribunal to prosecute suspects in the killing of Lebanon's former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri whose supporters celebrated by dancing in the streets of Beirut.
The vote at U.N. headquarters in New York was 10-0 with five abstentions - Russia, China, South Africa, Indonesia and Qatar. Nine votes were needed for approval. The five nations that abstained objected to establishing the tribunal without approval of Lebanon's parliament and to a provision which would allow the resolution to be militarily enforced.
Commenting on the development, Hariri's son said in Lebanon that the resolution was a turning point that would protect his country from further assassinations. Saad Hariri called it a "victory the world has given to oppressed Lebanon and a victory for an oppressed Lebanon in the world."
"Enough divisions. .. Let's put our energies together for the sake of the nation," he urged, according to the AP.
The issue of the tribunal has sharply polarized Lebanon. It is at the core of a deep political crisis between the government and the Syrian-backed opposition led by Hizbullah.
It should be mentioned that Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora asked the Security Council earlier this month to establish the tribunal. He cited the refusal of Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri to convene a session to ratify statutes to create the tribunal, already approved by his government and the United Nations.
The resolution gives the Lebanese parliament a last chance to establish the tribunal itself. If it doesn't act by June 10, a tribunal will be established outside Lebanon with a majority of international judges and an international prosecutor. The tribunal will be established under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which deals with threats to international peace and can be militarily enforced.
In Lebanon, Saniora called the tribunal "a triumph for Lebanon against injustice, crime and tyranny." He urged the Lebanese to put their differences behind, saying the approval was a "positive step" for renewed dialogue to work together.
Meanwhile, joyful government supporters danced in the streets when they heard about the U.N. approval. Fireworks lit the night sky in Tarik Jadideh, a Sunni neighborhood where support for Hariri runs high.