Lebanon News

Qabbani denies Future tension, supports STL

BEIRUT: Mufti of the Republic Sheikh Mohammad Rashid Qabbani reiterated Thursday his support for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, while denying any tension in his relations with former Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s Future Movement.

Qabbani said Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s government should pay Lebanon’s share of funding for the U.N.-backed tribunal investigating the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

“The Lebanese government should fund the court because the crime happened in Lebanon. Those who are claiming that we changed our position [concerning our support to the court] are dishonest,” Qabbani told reporters at Rafik Hariri International Airport upon his return from Saudi Arabia.

“This is our firm and unchanging position,” he added.

Reports of a rift between the Future Movement and Qabbani emerged after the cleric received a Hezbollah delegation on the same day that the Special Tribunal for Lebanon issued an indictment against four members of Hezbollah.

Earlier this month, the Future Movement boycotted a rare visit by the mufti to south Lebanon.

While Mikati has stressed his government’s commitment to fund the tribunal, Hezbollah and its allies, which hold more than half of the Cabinet posts, oppose such a decision.

“There is no battle but rather imaginary and fictitious reports,” Qabbani said in reference to media reports that there was tension between the mufti and the Future Movement.

“Some are delusional and talking about imaginary battles. The mufti receives all Lebanese people,” he said.

When asked whether he met with Hariri, who is currently residing in Saudi Arabia, Qabbani said he was on a tight schedule that did not allow him to meet with the former prime minister.

Qabbani also praised Mikati’s government after Parliament approved Thursday a draft law to develop the electricity sector.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on September 23, 2011, on page 2.




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