Lebanon News

Aoun: Formal agreement needed between Cabinet and U.N. on STL

BEIRUT: Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun said Wednesday that he would not support measures to fund the Special Tribunal for Lebanon without a formal agreement between the country and the U.N., and reiterated that Christians in the region would suffer if the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad is toppled.

“The fall of the [Assad’s] regime will equally harm the interests of the Christians and the Muslims,” said Aoun, adding that he fears that the security situation in Syria would deteriorate further.

In an interview with the United Press International, Aoun said that there is only one solution to the Syrian crisis, and that is to have “stability and change” in Syria.

“Change without stability means blood and violence, while stability without change is a murderous dictatorship,” Aoun added.

More than 2,600 people have been killed in Syria in the past six months, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

According to Aoun, Muslim extremists are likely to prevail over other political parties in the Arab world following the so-called Arab spring which saw the regimes in Tunisia and Egypt fall.

“I am afraid that the Arab world is moving toward [religious extremism] … in which extremist movements would refuse to grant political freedoms,” said Aoun, adding that such movements consider democracy to be incompatible with Sharia.

Commenting on the recent statements made by Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai, Aoun said that Rai’s statements are in harmony with the Vatican’s approach.

“Present Papal ideology calls for clinging to the land Christians live in and with all the components of their society,” Aoun explained.

Earlier this month, Rai said world leaders should have given Assad more time to carry out political reforms and warned against substituting the current Syrian regime with a more radical one.

“Previous experiences show that instability and extremist ideologies reach the same results … as in Palestine and Iraq,” said Aoun.

Ahead of Cabinet discussions on Lebanon’s financial commitment to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, Aoun said that as a lawmaker he would not support funding the STL without an official agreement between the Lebanese state and the U.N.

“Is there any ratified agreement between the two?” asked Aoun.

According to the FPM leader, there are two ways to fund the STL: “We either pay our dues to the STL through a ratified agreement by constitutional institutions of both the Parliament and the government or through a Cabinet budget, which we cannot agree on,” Aoun noted.

Lebanon has yet to pay its share, some $32 million, owed this month to the U.N.-backed court that is probing the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Earlier this month, ministerial sources told The Daily Star that Prime Minister Najib Mikati would likely evade a confrontation in the Cabinet by directly referring the funds to the Foreign Ministry or the Justice Ministry.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on September 22, 2011, on page 2.




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