The Shi’ite militant group Hezbollah has announced its intentions to resign from the Lebanese Cabinet and topple the government on Wednesday.The group said that its ministers and allies will resign unless the Prime Minister agrees to call an urgent Cabinet meeting over the investigation of the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
Indictments by the United Nations Special Tribunal in Lebanon (STL) are looming in connection with Rafik Hariri’s murder and several Hizbullah members expected to be indicted by the Hariri tribunal.
The UN STL is scheduled to hand out its findings within” hours or days” according to Lebanese newspaper An Nahar.
Hezbollah has denied any role in Rafik Hariri’s death and has been quick to condemn the tribunal, labeling it an “Israeli project”. They have called on Western-backed Prime Minister Saad Hariri, the son of Rafik Hariri, to denounce any UN indictments.
Saad Hariri, who refused to bend to Hezbollah’s demands, has been sharing power with the Iranian-backed militant group. He was scheduled to meet Wednesday with President Obama in Washington to discuss the crisis.
Despite Hariri being out of the country, an emergency Cabinet meeting seemed necessary due to the collapse.
Hezbollah needs more than 1/3 of the ministers to resign in order to topple the government. Ten of the 30-member Cabinet are allied with Hezbollah. An unnamed official source said that an 11th minister would also submit his resignation.
The looming UN indictments have already negatively scared away foreign investors, and have raised concerns of violent eruptions between Shiites, Sunnis and Christians. In 2008 differences between the three sects caused violent clashes which killed a total of 81 people and nearly threw Lebanon into another civil war.
The assassination of Rafik Hariri in a suicide bombing which also claimed the lives of 22 others shocked and divided the Lebanese people. He was a Sunni backed by many Christians who supported his efforts to reduce Syrian influence in Lebanon. A series of assassinations of anti-Syrian politicians followed his death which UN investigators suspect were connected to his assassination.