[JURIST] The Lebanese government Monday presented a draft law to amend the Lebanese constitution so that Gen. Michel Suleiman [Xinhua report] can become president of Lebanon. Under the present Lebanese constitution [text, in French] the presidency cannot be held by a sitting military commander [JURIST report]. Anti-Syrian and pro-Syrian members of Lebanon's parliament have been unable to reach an agreement on who will replace former Lebanon leader Emile Lahoud, who left office [JURIST report] at the end of his term on November 23 without a successor in place. Pro-Syrian factions are opposed to the new law; they want the parliament to have veto power over a future coalition government before Gen. Michel Suleiman is appointed. The draft cannot become law unless the Lebanese parliament approves it.
Lahoud purported to declare a "state of emergency" and hand security responsibility to the army in a vaguely worded statement [JURIST report] issued just before leaving office. The emergency was immediately rejected by the government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, which noted through a spokesman that Lebanon's constitution did not permit the president to declare a state of emergency without obtaining the approval of the government under Article 65. Its Article 62 moreover provides that presidential powers revert to the government if the office of president falls vacant. Reuters has more.
[JURIST] UN and Dutch government representatives have signed an agreement under which the Netherlands will host the new international tribunal investigating the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri [JURIST news archive]. UN Assistant Secretary-General for Legal Affairs Larry D. Johnson and Dutch Ambassador Frank Majoor inked the Headquarters Agreement Friday in New York. The agreement is expected to the ratified by the Dutch parliament. UN International Independent Investigation Commission (IIIC) [authorizing resolution; UN materials] head Serge Brammertz [ICC profile; JURIST news archive] has said that the commission has made progress in identifying unspecified "persons of interest" to be tried for crimes in front of the tribunal. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is expected to select judges [JURIST report] to serve on the tribunal in 2008.
The UN Security Council unilaterally established the tribunal [JURIST report; UN News report] in May after a divided Lebanese government failed to agree on a proposal. The tribunal will also investigate [JURIST report] and possibly try suspects in 17 other attempted and successful political assassinations in Lebanon. From Beirut, the Daily Star has more.
[JURIST] Representatives of Nepal's leading political parties signed an agreement Sunday that would abolish the country's monarchy as part of a plan to bring members of Communist Party of Nepal - Maoists (CPN-M) [party website] back into the country's government. The agreement contemplates calling a special assembly in early 2008 to rewrite the country's constitution and eliminate the monarchy after that. Nepal's Maoist Communists left Nepal's interim government [JURIST news archive] in protest in September and have been boycotting future elections over the monarchy issue. they insist the monarchy should be scrapped as Nepal transitions to a republic. The current monarch, King Gyanendra [BBC profile], gained political notoriety in 2005 when he dissolved the civilian government and seized power [JURIST report] himself. A High Level Probe Commission later concluded [JURIST report] that Gyanendra and some 200 members of his administration were responsible for violent response to pro-democracy protests that left 22 dead and more than 5,000 wounded before the King relinquished governmental control.
Nepal's House of Representatives adopted [JURIST report] a draft of an interim constitution [eKantipur highlights] in January; the document was notably silent on whether the king would retain head of state duties. AP has more.
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