News / Middle East

Rafik Hariri's Legacy Continues in Lebanon

Lebanese women pass by a giant portrait of slain Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri near his grave in downtown Beirut, Lebanon, June 30, 2011.
Lebanese women pass by a giant portrait of slain Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri near his grave in downtown Beirut, Lebanon, June 30, 2011.

Former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was considered a powerful political force in Lebanon and throughout the Arab world, before his 2005 death in a truck bombing that targeted his motorcade in Lebanon.

On Thursday, more than six years after his assassination, Lebanese media reported that a United Nations backed tribunal issued four arrest warrants and a sealed indictment to Lebanon's prosecutor general.

Crucial role

Hariri served as prime minister first between 1992 and 1998 and for another four-year stint starting in 2000. His family has and continues to play a crucial role in Lebanese politics and economic development.

Hariri was born in Lebanon in 1944 to a Sunni Muslim farmer and grocer.

At the age of 20, he enrolled at Beirut Arab University, but dropped out a year later without a degree. He then moved to Saudi Arabia where he worked as a teacher, but went on to amass his fortune in construction.

Billionaire businessman

The billionaire businessman was widely considered the main driving force behind the reconstruction of Beirut following Lebanon's civil war, which lasted from 1975 to 1990.

After coming into office, Hariri slashed income and corporate taxes, and borrowed billions of dollars to rebuild the infrastructure of the capital, a move that drastically slowed economic growth, putting Lebanon's economy on the verge of collapse.

Corruption accusations

During this time, the Hariri government was accused of rampant corruption. He was ousted in 1998. Hariri then returned to office two years later, but resigned in 2004 after several long-standing public disagreements over the role of Syria in Lebanon.

After his death, Saad Hariri, Rafik Hariri's son, became prime minister in 2009, but was forced out in January in a political feud with the Shi'ite militant group Hezbollah, over the tribunal.

Hezbollah had been pressing Hariri to disavow the tribunal, but on Thursday he praised its findings.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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