Lebanon: Upheaval could follow indictments

Nov. 15, 2010 at 9:39 AM
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BEIRUT, Lebanon, Nov. 15 (UPI) -- Indictments expected in the 2005 murder of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri threaten to bring a new wave of political instability, officials said.

Politicians and diplomats have expressed concern that the indictments -- to be issued soon by a United Nations tribunal investigating the assassination -- could lead to political upheaval and possible bloodshed if Hezbollah is named, The Washington Post reported Monday.

"People are more worried than ever," one ranking government official said. "I tell my employees I don't expect street violence but I have the impression they don't believe me."

Recent reaction to reports that Hezbollah members could be named in Hariri's killing show how much influence the militant organization has in Lebanon, the Post said. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said last week he wouldn't allow followers be arrested.

"Any hand that will touch any of them will be cut off," Nasrallah said during a speech in one of Beirut's southern suburbs.

Hezbollah, in an apparent move to delay release of the indictments, tried and failed last week to force the Lebanese Cabinet to vote to send people who allegedly gave false testimony to investigators to be tried in Lebanon's top court.

"The future of this country is depending on the tribunal," said Antoine Andraus, deputy leader of Hariri's Future Movement political party.

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