As reported by Ya Libnan earlier today March 14 MPs walked out from the parliament as soon as Speaker Nabih Berri began the procedure for granting the vote of confidence to the newly formed cabinet.
Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s government secured the vote of confidence with 68 out of a possible 128 votes .
During the vote, opposition MP Robert Ghanem remained in the parliament hall but abstained from voting.
“The government confirms it will continue the path of the (Special Tribunal for Lebanon … and continue to cooperate in this regard as per the U.N. Security Council Resolution which set up the tribunal to see justice served,” Mikati said ahead of the vote.
Commenting on the opposition’s walkout ahead of the vote, Speaker Nabih Berri said: “It is their democratic right if this is their choice.”
Last week, the U.N.-backed STL issued an indictment in the assassination of former premier Rafik Hariri and ordered the arrest of four Hizbullah members over the murder.
Lebanese Democratic Party leader MP Talal Arslan, who is a member of the parliamentary majority, did not attend the session.
Arslan had resigned as state minister from Miqati’s cabinet hours after its line-up was announced in protest at the fact that he was not granted a key portfolio.
MPs Nicolas Fattoush and Michel Murr, who were allied with the opposition during the 2009 parliamentary elections, granted the government their votes of confidence.
Thursday’s vote capped three days of parliamentary talks on the government’s Policy Statement, which had triggered a heated debate between the majority and the opposition, led by former premier Saad Hariri.
Former PM Saad Hariri did not attend Thursday’s for security reasons. He is reportedly still in Paris due to the many life threats he received.
“I am following my conscience, my ethics, my loyalty to (slain) prime minister Rafik Hariri,” Mikati said when interrupted by a member of the opposition, prompting a round of applause from the audience.
“You will suffer during every cabinet session and during the discussion of every issue and you will regret accepting to become a hostage of (a government) capable of imposing its view on you,” MP Boutros Harb told PM Minister Najib Mikati earlier today adding: “The country will pay the price because it will turn into a dictatorship.”
This is the clause pertaining to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon in the ministerial statement which was the main concern for the new opposition
14. Our government respects international resolutions, thus it is keen to reveal and expose the truth regarding the crime of the assassination of martyr Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and his companions. The government will follow the progress of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon which was initially established to achieve righteousness and justice, without politicization or revenge, and without any negative impact on Lebanon’s stability, unity and civil peace.
4 Hezbollah suspects
STL confirmed the indictments in the assassination of Lebanon’s former PM Hariri on Thursday. An STL delegation met with Lebanon’s state prosecutor Said Mirza on Thursday and handed him a copy of the Lebanon portion of the indictment and the arrest warrants. Two of the suspects Mustafa Badreddine and Salim Ayyash are reportedly senior members of the Iranian and Syrian-backed Hezbollah while the other two Hezbollah members Hassan Aneissy, also known as Hassan Issa, and Assad Sabra played a supporting role in the execution of the assassination.
Lebanon has 30 days to find and arrest the suspects but Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah said Saturday that the party would not cooperate with the tribunal.
“No Lebanese government will be able to carry out any arrests whether in 30 days, 30 years or even 300 years.”
“We reject the Special Tribunal for Lebanon along with each and every void accusation it issues, which to us is the equivalent of an attack against Hezbollah,” Nasrallah added in his hour-long speech.
Nasrallah admitted all the four suspects are Hezbollah members:
“The suspects named in the indictment are brothers who have an honorable history in resisting Israeli occupation.” He said
The whereabouts of the four remain unknown but some reports indicated that the two prime suspects in the assassination already fled to Iran.
Professor Ghassan Karam commented about Nasrallah’s defiance in an article in Ya Libnan: ” Nasrallah has acted as judge, jury and executioner. He has determined that his people are not guilty and that no one should dream of arresting any of them”.
“My only advice to those charged is that they should consult a lawyer as soon as possible…Now is the time for defense.” Francois Roux, the head of the Defense Office of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon said in addressing the four Hezbollah members who were indicted in the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese PM Rafik Hariri