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Thousands in Beirut Mark Second Anniversary of Hariri Assassination


Tens of thousands of demonstrators gathered in Beirut's city center, amid strict security, to mark the second anniversary of the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri. Edward Yeranian reports from Beirut.

A buoyant crowd of mostly young demonstrators, many waving Lebanese flags and chanting slogans, filled Beirut's city center to honor slain former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri.

Billboards proclaiming "We will not forget you," and "Justice will be done," overlooked the sea of solemn faces.

Church bells tolled and mosque minarets blared "Allah akbar" to mark the exact moment two years ago, Wednesday, that Mr. Hariri was killed by a massive explosion, targeting his motorcade.

Top Lebanese politicians who support the pro-Western government of Prime Minister Fuad Siniora spoke, some denouncing Syria, and others urging that Mr. Hariri's killers be brought to justice.

Referring to the pro-Syrian Hezbollah group, which has been trying to topple the government since December, Social Affairs Minister Nayla Mouawad insisted that the group would not succeed.

"We have defeated a plot by the opposition: I tell them that the truth will prevail and that they will not defeat or overthrow us, no matter how much they try," she said.

Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, who has repeatedly accused Syria of killing Mr. Hariri and of trying to topple the government to prevent the formation of a U.N. tribunal to prosecute his killers, vowed not to give in.

"No party, except the Lebanese government, has the right to bear arms," he said.

Sa'ad Hariri, son of the slain former prime minister, told the crowd that he is prepared to find a solution to Lebanon's weeks old political crisis, but not at the expense of a U.N. tribunal to punish his father's killers.

"We are ready for any honorable and courageous solution to Lebanon's crisis, but the U.N. tribunal is the only gateway to that solution," he said.

Shops across Beirut and most of Lebanon were closed for the day to mark the anniversary of Mr. Hariri's slaying, and even Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah issued a statement in honor of his memory.

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