Anti-Hezbollah coalition wants Lebanon 'freed' from group's arms

AFP , Sunday 29 Dec 2013

Lebanon's former prime minister Fouad Siniora (C), accompanied with members of the "March 14" coalition, speaks as he condemns and announces the death of the Former Lebanese minister Mohamad Chatah in Beirut December 27, 2013. (Photo: Reuters)

A Lebanese coalition opposed to the powerful Shiite movement Hezbollah said Sunday the country should be freed from the group's weapons, as they buried a member assassinated in a bombing.

"We have decided to liberate the country of the occupation of illegitimate weapons to preserve its independence, its sovereignty and its civil peace," said March 14 coalition member Fuad Siniora.

The former prime minister was speaking at the burial of Mohammad Chatah, another member of the coalition known for its opposition to Hezbollah and criticism of the Syrian regime.

Chatah was killed in a Friday bombing in central Beirut, along with six others, in an attack that March 14 members have indirectly accused Hezbollah and Syria of carrying out.

"We have decided to engage with the Lebanese people in peaceful, civil and democratic resistance," said Siniora, adding the "peaceful battle" would begin soon but without giving any details.

"We call for liberty and justice, we will not surrender, we will not back down, we will not be afraid," he said.

Around him, some members of a crowd of mourners chanted "Hezbollah is the enemy of God," and "Hezbollah are terrorists".

"We will not become murderers and we will not destroy Lebanon, as they do... we will protect Lebanon, a land of liberty, dialogue and reconciliation."

Chatah's assassination revived painful memories of a string of targeted killings between 2005 and 2012 of prominent critics of the Syrian regime.

They began with a massive bomb that killed former prime minister Rafiq Hariri in central Beirut on February 14, 2005.

Chatah had worked with Hariri and later served as an adviser to his son Saad, who also served as prime minister.

Hezbollah and the Syrian government have denied any role in any of the attacks against their critics in Lebanon.

Syria dominated Lebanon militarily and politically between 1976, when it intervened in the country's civil war, and 2005, when it was forced to withdraw in the wake of Hariri's assassination.

Short link: