Lebanon News

PM fires back over STL funding slurs

Prime Minister Najib Mikati speaks during an interview with The Daily Star at the Grand Serail in Beirut, Monday, July 2, 2012. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: Prime Minister Najib Mikati hit back Friday at opposition March 14 politicians who had criticized his handling of paying Lebanon’s share of the annual funding for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.

“No sooner had Prime Minister Najib Mikati announced the payment of Lebanon’s share toward the funding of the STL, then an ‘organized chorus’ resumed a campaign against Prime Minister Mikati, unleashing again stances that are devoid of any logic,” a statement by Mikati’s office said.

Referring to March 14 politicians, the statement said that “this chorus” described Mikati’s move to fund the STL with terms that reflected the “deep hatred” in the hearts of these people to the extent that they have lost logic and foresight.

“What this chorus is saying categorically confirms that these people do not want justice and knowing the truth [in former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri’s 2005 assassination],” the statement said. “They have no argument except using the blood of martyr Rafik Hariri in political outbiddings and on occasions when they need leverage through which they show up before their supporters, belittling the minds of all the Lebanese,” it added.

The statement said Mikati’s move to pay Lebanon’s share of the STL’s funding reflected his deep-rooted patriotic and personal belief, as well as that of the majority of the Lebanese, in “achieving justice and revealing the truth [in Hariri’s assassination] away from any politicization and the need for Lebanon to respect its international obligations.”

“He [Mikati] did not fund [the STL] in order to satisfy anyone or to get a certificate of good conduct from anyone, namely from this chorus and those belonging to it on occasions,” it said.

Mikati declined to provide details on how Lebanon paid its share of the STL’s annual budget as he was attacked from mainly March 14 for transferring the money without Cabinet approval.

After chairing a Cabinet meeting that approved the draft 2012 state budget at the Grand Serail, Mikati told reporters that Lebanon transferred its share of the STL’s funding Wednesday morning in the same manner it did last year, but was not reliant on donations from Lebanese banks.

The STL confirmed Wednesday that it had received the funding from the government of nearly 27 million euros ($33 million), amounting to 49 percent of the tribunal’s 2012 budget.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 14, 2012, on page 2.




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