DOHA (Reuters) - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Lebanon’s coalition crisis on Wednesday was a transparent attempt to subvert justice, but vowed that the work of a U.N.-backed tribunal investigating the assassination of former prime minister Rafik al-Hariri would go on.
“We view what happened today as a transparent effort by those forces inside Lebanon, as well as interests outside Lebanon, to subvert justice and undermine Lebanon’s stability and progress,” Clinton told a news conference in Doha, Qatar, where she is attending a meeting of regional leaders.
“The work of the special tribunal must go forward so justice can be served and impunity ended,” Clinton said.
She was speaking after ministers from Shi‘ite group Hezbollah and its allies resigned on Wednesday, toppling the government of Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, son of Rafik.
The special tribunal is expected to indict members of Hezbollah over the 2005 killing, in which it denies any role.
“This is a matter that should be allowed to proceed as previously agreed to. This is not only about the tragic assassination of former Prime Minister Hariri, but many other people died and were injured as well,” Clinton said.
“Lebanon needs now to rally behind its own interests. The Lebanese people need to get beyond political party. It’s not political parties that would be put on trial, it’s individuals,” she said.
Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani said Qatar had no plans to mediate as it has in previous Lebanese political crises, but added that the Gulf region hoped the Saudi initiative to find a solution could still move forward.
“We still hope that there will be a solution which will avoid Lebanon slipping into conflicts of any sort,” he said at a joint appearance with Clinton.
Reporting by Andrew Quinn, editing by Mark Trevelyan