PM-designate asks Lebanon's government to pay dues to Special Tribunal

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Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri speaks after meeting with Lebanon's President Michel Aoun at the presidential palace in Baabda

CAIRO (Reuters) -Prime Minister-Designate Saad al-Hariri asked the Lebanese government on Saturday to pay its dues to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and for the international community to shoulder its responsibility.

The tribunal was set up to prosecute those behind the 2005 assassination of Hariri's father, Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. It is 51% funded by voluntary contributions and 49% by the government, and could close after July if the funding shortage is not resolved.

The closure would prevent its work that is vital for putting an end to political assassinations in Lebanon, a statement by Hariri's office said.

On Thursday, judges at the tribunal scrapped a new trial against the man convicted of the assassination because of expectations that it will be shut down.

"It is a regrettable decision for the train of justice to stop at a time when we are in most need of it and it is painful that the reasons are financial," the statement said.

Last year the tribunal convicted in absentia former Hezbollah member Salim Jamil Ayyash for the bombing that killed Hariri and 21 others in a ruling that was being appealed.

Hariri, a veteran Sunni politician and former prime minister himself, has been trying to cobble together a cabinet since his designation in October at a time when Lebanon is under increasing danger of complete collapse on the back of an acute financial crisis.

Hariri has been at loggerheads with President Michel Aoun, an ally of the Iran-backed Hezbollah, over the naming of ministers.

(Reporting by Maha El Dahan; Editing by Timothy Heritage and David Evans)

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