Opposition Stages Biggest Show of Muscle, Accuses Regime of Murdering Hariri
Lebanon's national opposition front is staging a massive show of force at Rafik Hariri's graveside in downtown Beirut Monday amid outspoken charges that President Lahoud's Syrian-backed regime was behind the billionaire ex-premier's assassination.
Endless bus convoys were pouring into the capital from all over Lebanon to take part in the mid-afternoon sit-in at the Martyrs Square, waving a sea of Lebanese national flags and chanting 'Truth, Sovereignty and Independence.'
Bussed protestors from the Christian heartland north of Beirut complained that army checkpoints were purposely slowing the drive to Beirut by insisting on frisking each traveler bodily. They said many had switched to boats and were heading by sea to Beirut beaches.
Thousands of opposition activists from all political and sectarian shades of Lebanon's spectrum spent the night at a make-shift metropolis of blue tents erected just across the street from Hariri's grave at the courtyard of Al Amin Mosque and in cars and buses parked nearby.
They maintained a nightlong candle light vigil at the grave and drew with burning candles the word 'Truth' in Arabic and English, which Hariri's sister, Bahia, said it means "we want the full truth about who conspired, planned and executed the assassination."
Roaring chants rang out from the crowds at midmorning, demanding that State Prosecutor Adnan Addoum and commanders of all six major security and intelligence departments of the country be sacked for allowing Hariri's assassination to happen exactly one month ago.
"This is a demand we shall keep alive in non-strop graveside sits-in," said Hariri's parliament bloc member Walid Ido. "The secret services have become a death machine, a death mill toiling without letup."
Ido spoke on Hariri's Future-TV network screen a few hours after ex-Defense Minister Mohsen Dalloul directly accused the Lahoud regime of involvement in Hariri's assassination, revealing that a police unit assigned to protect the ex-premier was withdrawn a few days before the crime.
"Hariri had worked out an agreement with President Lahoud to have the police unit assigned to protect and escort him as a former prime minister. The force was actually put on the job and it functioned from Hariri's Koreitem mansion," Dalloul said in an interview aired by the F-TV Sunday night.
"When Hariri's aides managed to reach the official responsible for the protection unit, he said Hariri has plenty of money and he can hire his own security apparatus," said Dalloul, a parliament member who served as defense minister in one of Hariri's governments.
"The crime took place a few days later and now officials are boasting that 'the crime is behind us,' which means they have committed the crime," Dalloul added.
Beirut, Updated 14 Mar 05, 17:08
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