Rally in Lebanon marks Hariri’s killing
BEIRUT - Tens of thousands of flag-waving Lebanese gathered in Beirut’s main square yesterday to mark the fifth anniversary of the assassination of former prime minister Rafik Hariri, a killing that sparked a cascade of political turmoil in the Middle East.
Turnout from across the country was huge but estimated to be less than in previous years - perhaps a reflection of the serious rift within the ranks of the pro-Western ruling coalition, now headed by the slain Hariri’s son, the current prime minister.
This year’s anniversary also comes after Prime Minister Saad Hariri reconciled with neighboring Syria, whom he has openly accused of killing his father in the 2005 truck bombing. The 40-year-old Hariri now heads a unity government that includes Syrian-backed politicians who had been part of the political opposition.
Hariri spoke of a new stage in Lebanon’s relations with its neighbor.
“In all truth, honesty, and responsibility, I am keen on keeping this window open, and on building a new era in Lebanese-Syrian relations, from one sovereign, free, and independent state to another,’’ he said.
Rafik Hariri’s death was followed by the rise of a US- and Saudi-backed alliance that became known as the March 14 coalition, named after a day of massive anti-Syrian protests dubbed the Cedar Revolution.