Thousands rally on Hariri assassination anniversary


Tens of thousands of supporters of Lebanon's 14 March movement, which leads the coalition government, rallied in Beirut's Martyrs' Square on Sunday to mark the fifth annversary of the killing of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.


"Five years ago, you came down to this very square to demand justice and freedom ... and we are not turning back," Hariri's son, Saad, who is now Prime Minister, told the crowd.

The turnout was lower than in 2005 or for the last two years, when Lebanese turned out to demand an end to the violence and political instability which had hit the country.

Hariri defended his recent visit to Syria, which he has accused of being behind his father's assassination. He said that it was part of "inter-Arab reconciliation" efforts launched by Saudi King Abdullah.

Damascus had troops in Lebanon for 29 years before withdrawing in 2005. Hariri now heads a coalition government which includes his long-time enemies, Hezbollah.

Hariri's ally, former President Amin Gemael, who heads the Christian Maronite Phalange Party, called on Damascus to "bring an end to issues that are hanging between our countries".

Amother Maronite leader Samir Geagea called on Hezbollah to "place its arms at the service of the state".

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