Lebanon transfers funds to UN Hariri court: PM

AFP , Wednesday 30 Nov 2011

Lebanon's Prime Minister Najib Mikati said Wednesday he had transferred its share of funding to a UN-backed court probing the murder of ex-premier Rafiq Hariri, an issue that threatened to spark the collapse of his government.

"This morning, I transferred Lebanon's share of funding to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (TSL)," Mikati said in a surprise announcement.

He said the decision was in Lebanon's interest and would protect the country from the upheavals shaking the region.

"This does not constitute a victory for one party over another," the premier told reporters.

Mikati last week threatened to resign should his Hezbollah-dominated government refuse to fund the STL, and the issue was to be discussed on Wednesday at a cabinet meeting that was postponed.

The Netherlands-based court has indicted four Hezbollah operatives in connection with Hariri's murder but they have not surrendered to the court.

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah, who has denounced the court as part of a US-Israeli conspiracy, has steadfastly pushed with his allies for Lebanon to cut all ties with the tribunal.

The Shiite militant group toppled the government of Saad Hariri, the slain leader's son, in January after he refused to stop cooperation with the court.

Lebanon is responsible for meeting 49 percent of the STL's financing, which amounts to some $35 million (25.2 million euros) this year.

Mikati's government had until the end of October to transfer the now overdue funds.

The premier said last week that he would rather quit than be head of a government that did not honour its international obligations.

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