Hariri rejects violence in Lebanon

Ahram Online and AFP, Tuesday 25 Jan 2011

Prominent leader Saad Al-Hariri condemns violent protests amid rising tensions in Lebanon Tuesday, as Hezbollah-backed Mikati is named prime minister

Lebanese caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri (L) and former Prime Minister Fuad Saniora (R) speak to the media after meeting with Lebanese President Michel Suleiman at the Presidential Palace in Baabda, east of Beirut, Lebanon, Monday, 24 January 2011. (AP)

Al-Jazeera televised today a speech delivered by prominent leader of Lebanon’s Future Movement Saad Al-Hariri, amid rising tensions in the country and after violent protesta erupted against opposition candidate, Hezbollah-backed Najib Mikati.

In his speech, Hariri fully condemned the violent protesters, dubbing them “outlaws.” He also denounced the violent assault on an Al-Jazeera vehicle whose crew was attempting to cover the protests in Tripoli. 

"I express my greatest regret for what happened to the news vehicle," he said, calling for restraint.

Hariri thanked his supporters but said those who acted violently tainted noble, nationalistic movements by rioting and attacking the freedoms of others.

He also insisted that the country must be protected against hegemonic control.

Hariri then called on the nation to not be driven by sectarian sentiment, saying, "My call to you is a nationalistic one and was never a sectarian call."

"Today, you are an angry nation but you are also a responsible nation," whose national duty, he said, was to protect the country’s safety and security.

Hariri also maintained that democracy is the way to go, calling on people to keep their heads high and raise the country’s flag on top of their houses, and insisting on legitimate resistance through constitutional institutions rather than through street violence.

Finally, Hariri asked that the people not to allow anyone to take advantage of their anger.

Hezbollah-backed Sunni billionaire businessman Najib Mikati clinched on Tuesday the backing of a majority of MPs in order to be appointed as Lebanon's new prime minister, according to an AFP count.

President Michel Suleiman has officially named Mikati, 55, as prime minister and he is set to begin forming a new government tomorrow, with the backing of 65 of the parliament's 128 MPs. The MPs have been meeting since Monday with President Michel Sleiman, after Hezbollah brought down the unity government of Western-backed Saad Al-Hariri.

Mikati’s appointment has sparked widespread anger within the Sunni community, as thousands of protesters gathered in Lebanon's Sunni bastion of Tripoli on Tuesday for a "day of rage."


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