Lebanon’s two contrasting rallies

Updated on Feb 14, 2008 11:18 PM IST
Thousands of Govt supporters converged on central Beirut for the third anniversary of ex-premier Rafiq Hariri’s assassination, as just miles away Lebanon’s opposition Hezbollah prepared to bury a top commander slain by a car bomb.
HT Image
HT Image
AFP | By, Beirut

Hundreds of thousands of government supporters converged on central Beirut on Thursday for the third anniversary of ex-premier Rafiq Hariri’s assassination, as just miles away Lebanon’s opposition Hezbollah prepared to bury a top commander slain by a car bomb.

Amid fears of clashes between rival pro- and anti-Syrian factions, army troops and security forces were deployed in force in the capital. The factions have faced off repeatedly in recent weeks.

A sea of people gathered under pouring rain in Martyrs' Square in central Beirut, where Hariri is buried, waving Lebanese flags and photos of the slain leader as well as other politicians and figures killed in the past three years. As the rally got underway, members of Hariri's family and the ruling coalition inaugurated a square at the site of his death on the Beirut seafront.

They also unveiled a bronze statue, a sculpture in the form of a flame and an obelisk bearing inscriptions about his accomplishments and sayings.

Politicians meanwhile gave fiery speeches demanding an end to the country's presidential deadlock and accusing Syria of meddling in Lebanese politics.

“I say to those encouraging an escalation that Lebanon will not be transformed into another Iraq,” Sheikh Ali al-Amin, the Shiite Mufti of the southern city of Tyre told the crowd from behind bullet-proof glass.

Lebanon has been without a president since last November when pro-Syrian Emile Lahoud stepped down at the end of his term. A subsequent power struggle between the ruling majority anti-Syrian faction and the Hezbollah-led opposition has left a continuing vacuum.

Nassib Lahoud, a former ambassador to the US and a member of the ruling majority, said his side would not budge from its demands for the election of a president without outside interference, followed by the formation of a national unity government.

In the city's Shia southern suburbs, Hezbollah was preparing to bury Imad Mughnieh, one of its top commanders killed in a car bombing on Tuesday which the movement blamed on Israel.

The Jewish state denied responsibility although politicians welcomed his death and a US State Department spokesman said the world would be "a better place" without him.

Meanwhile, Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei sent his condolences to Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah, hailing Mughnieh as a "great man".

"It should make the Lebanese proud to have given the world such great men in the fields of seeking freedom and fighting cruelty," he said.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close Story
QUICKREADS

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    Putin says Russia ready to offer its most advanced weapons to country's allies

    Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday vowed to expand military cooperation with the country's allies, noting that Moscow is ready to offer them its most advanced weapons. Putin hailed the Russian military's action in Ukraine, which has triggered massive Western sanctions, and thanked Moscow's allies for their support. “We highly appreciate that we have many allies, partners and people who share our thinking on various continents,” he said.

  • Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla. (File Photo)

    Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla tests positive for Covid with mild symptoms

    The CEO is one of many people who have contracted Covid despite receiving full vaccination and boosting. The mutating coronavirus has continually found ways to at least partially evade immunity induced by shots and previous infections, although usually causing milder cases.

  • Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen (fourth from right) chat with the members of a delegation of US Congress during a meeting at the Presidential Office in Taipei, on Monday. (AP)

    China holds more military drills as US lawmakers meet Taiwanese president

    China has carried out fresh military drills near self-governed Taiwan in response to the ongoing visit of US lawmakers to the island as high tension, sparked earlier this month by the visit of US House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, to Taipei, continues in the Taiwan Strait. China claims Taiwan as part of its territory and says official ties between the island and another country is a violation of the mainland's sovereignty.

  • The logo of Swedish retailer Ikea (L). (Photo by Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP)

    Ikea shoppers in Shanghai panic after security locks down store on Covid risk

    Health authorities in the financial hub said that they imposed “temporary control measures” at the store, after they found out that a close contact of a 6-year-old boy with an asymptomatic Covid infection had been there. They didn’t say when the close contact was in the store.

  • A Myanmar court convicted Suu Kyi in more corruption cases on Monday, Aug. 15, 2022, adding six years to prison sentence. (File)

    Deposed Myanmar leader Suu Kyi sentenced to 6 more years in prison

    Myanmar's deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi was sentenced to six more years in prison on Monday in a judgment that could further anger supporters of the 77-year-old Nobel peace prize laureate. It's the fourth round of criminal verdicts against Suu Kyi since the military seized power in a 2021 coup and brings her total jail term to 17 years, extinguishing any chance of her staging a political comeback while the junta remain in power.

SHARE
Story Saved
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Tuesday, August 16, 2022
Start 15 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now