Lebanon’s Prime Minister Najib Mikati has said he is ready to resign should his Hezbollah-dominated cabinet refuse to transfer funds to a U.N.-backed court probing the murder of ex-premier Rafiq Hariri.
“I cannot imagine being prime minister of a government under which Lebanon breached its international commitments or isolated itself from the international community,” Mikati told LBC television late Thursday.
When asked whether he was ready to resign over the issue, Mikati said: “Quite simply, by resigning I will be protecting Lebanon should it fail to pay its share of funding.”
International pressure has been mounting for months on Mikati to uphold his country’s duties to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), which has charged four operatives of Shiite militant group Hezbollah in the 2005 assassination of Sunni billionaire Hariri. No arrests have been made.
Lebanon is responsible for meeting 49 percent of the STL’s financing, totaling to $35 million (25.2 million euros) this year.
Mikati, whose cabinet has yet to come up with the money, said earlier this week that he would continue to work towards “making the right decision regarding funding within the legal deadline.”
His latest comments came one day after he met STL president, David Baragwanath, who was wrapping up a week-long visit to Lebanon on Friday.
A government official, speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity, said Baragwanath had made clear that it was in the interest of Mikati’s government to contribute its share to the court or face “being dragged before the U.N. Security Council.”
The Netherlands-based STL, the first international court with jurisdiction to try an act of terrorism, has been at the center of a heated political battle between the ruling bloc led by Syrian- and Iranian-backed Hezbollah and a pro-Western opposition led by Hariri’s son, ex-premier Saad Hariri.
Hezbollah has dismissed the tribunal as a U.S.-Israeli conspiracy and has refused to agree to any transfer of funds by the government.
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has also said that no members of his party wanted by the STL will ever be found.