Tens of thousands of Lebanese have gathered in Beirut to mark the 3rd death anniversary of former PM Rafik Hariri. The city is under tight security after the recent assassination of a top Hezbollah leader in Syria. S. Khoury reports.
Tens of thousands of supporters of the anti-Syrian parliamentary majority gathered in the rain on Beirut's Martyrs' Square Thursday to commemorate the third anniversary of the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
The square has been under strict security lockdown since Wednesday night. The country has been without a president since Nov. 24, and the factions' inability to agree on a candidate has raised fears of the kind of conflict that divided the country for years during the Lebanese civil war (1975-1990).
In the three years since Hariri's death, several Lebanese politicians, journalists and security officials have been killed in bomb attacks. The Lebanese majority has accused Syria of being behind the attacks.
A peaceful demonstration
Thursday's commemoration was organised by the anti-Syrian “March 14” alliance, which accuses
Telecommunications Minister Merwan Hamade, a member of the anti-Syrian majority, told FRANCE 24 he did not anticipate any trouble at the event. “I don’t think there will be any violence because the March 14 coalition has organised a peaceful demonstration and many families and children will be attending.” He added: “We want to show the determination of the Lebanese people to get the truth behind Hariri’s assassination and at the same time to elect a new president to get our national institutions moving again.”
Scarlette Hadad, a Lebanese journalist working for French-language “L’Orient le Jour”, asked why the Lebanese people must live in perpetual mourning and under the threat of fresh violence. She told FRANCE 24 the demonstration will be “important” but “sad” and she hopes it will foster solidarity among Lebanese citizens. “The majority does not want to see a return to civil war because there are certain limits that shouldn’t be broken,” she said.
Date created : 2008-02-14