Saad Hariri in Beirut to Pay Tribute to his Father, 10 Years After his Death

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A Lebanese woman walks past a giant poster showing slain Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri on February 6, 2015 in central Beirut for the tenth anniversary of his death. "Ten years, 100 years, 1,000 years, we will stay faithful to you" read the billboards going up around Beirut a decade Hariri's assassination. AFP/Joseph Eid

Published Saturday, February 14, 2015

Lebanon's former prime minister Saad al-Hariri flew back into the country overnight on a rare visit to make a speech on Saturday to mark the 10th anniversary of his father Rafik al-Hariri's assassination, Lebanese media reported.

He will be the only speaker at a ceremony dedicated to his father in central Beirut, Lebanon’s National News Agency (NNA) and Hariri-owned newspaper Al-Mustaqbal said. Soldiers patrolled streets near the venue in the capital on Saturday and blocked off traffic.

Rafik Hariri was killed in a 2005 bombing in Beirut. A memorial torch was built in the assassination scene near the Saint George Hotel and is lit yearly at 12:55 pm on February 14, marking the exact time of the explosion that brought the country back to the brink of civil war.

The assassination pushed Hariri's son Saad into political life. He remains Lebanon's most influential Sunni politician, despite leaving the country in 2011 after his government was toppled. He splits his time between Saudi Arabia and France, who support him.

A memorial will be held in Biel in Downtown Beirut on Saturday at 4:30 pm (GMT+2). Interior Security Forces (ISF) have taken strict security measures in the capital’s streets leading to Downtown, closing several roads with barbed wire.

Since early on Saturday, officials, politicians and ordinary citizens have been pouring to Hariri’s grave in Downtown to pay tribute and place wreaths.

MP Walid Jumblatt headed a delegation that included his son and MPs Marwan Hamade and Ghazi al-Aridi to visit the grave on Saturday morning. Minister of Interior Nouhad al-Machnouk was also present.

The head of the Lebanese Forces party, Samir Geagea, tweeted on Saturday saying, "Abou Bahaa, sleep in peace, they killed you but they cannot murder your project," using a nickname for Hariri.

Five members of the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement have been indicted in absentia over the killing of Hariri by an international tribunal in The Hague, which has been closely watched in Lebanon since it began in January 2014.

Hezbollah has denied any involvement in the killing.

Despite the animosity between the two groups, Hariri's Future Movement is now in a dialogue with Hezbollah to contain sectarian tensions back in Lebanon that have been exacerbated by the war in Syria.

(Reuters, Al-Akhbar)

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