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Lebanese President Asked to Resign Over Journalist's Death

Lebanon's opposition is calling for the resignation of pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud, following the assassination of an anti-Syrian journalist.

Church bells rang out in the Christian neighborhood of Achrafieh Friday, just 24 hours after a prominent Lebanese journalist was killed by a car bomb in this same area. The killing of Samir Kassir, well-known for his anti-Syrian writing, is spurring opposition parties to organize vigils and protests in his memory.

Journalists and media personalities gathered at Martyr's Square in downtown Beirut, standing silently with their pens in the air paying homage to their slain colleague. Many Lebanese, including Joseph Loutfi, accuse Syria of orchestrating the bomb attack.

"It's given adrenaline for other people to go down to the street and say that we are not in a state of peace," he said. "We are still in a state of assassination chain. Because after assassinating Mr. Hariri, we protested against Syria, and we said, 'it's cool now, we have to rebuild our Lebanon.' But after yesterday, they have told us, 'you Lebanese people, you are not in peace. We are not finished yet. We can kill wherever we want.'"

The death of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in a bombing in February united the opposition parties to demand the withdrawal of Syrian troops, who had occupied the country for three decades. A United Nations team has confirmed that Syrian troops have left the country, but many still believe that Syrian intelligence officials are operating inside Lebanon.

The killing of Mr. Kassir has once again united the opposition parties in a new call for President Emile Lahoud to step down from office. Mr. Lahoud has condemned the attack and denied any role.

Members of the opposition have also broken with the Free Patriotic Movement, led by former General Michel Aoun, who returned from exile last month to run in the parliamentary elections currently under way in Lebanon.

The opposition has referred to General Aoun as a maverick and says he must break his election alliances with former Syrian allies, if he wants to remain in the opposition coalition. The second round of the parliamentary elections will take place in the south of Lebanon on June 5.