Hariri supporters no to Hezbollah guns

2011-03-13 21:51

Beirut - Supporters of outgoing Lebanese premier Saad Hariri and his March 14 alliance demonstrated on Sunday and said "No" to the weapons held by their rival Shi'ite movement Hezbollah.

"It is impossible for arms to be toys thrown at our kids and for weapons to be raised against people longing for democracy," Hariri said in reference to Hezbollah's arsenal.

"Every weapon outside the state is illegal whatever its purpose," he told hundreds of thousands of his followers at a rally held in the centre of Beirut.

Hezbollah was the only Lebanese political faction allowed to keep its weapons after the 1975-90 civil war. The group argues it needs them to defend Lebanon from possible Israeli attacks.

In 2008, Hezbollah militants seized most of Beirut, following week-long clashes with Hariri's allies after the then western-backed government of premier Fouad Seniora tried to dismantle the group's private telecommunications network.

People from across the country participated in the rally, held under the slogan: "End the Supremacy of Arms in Lebanon." Some even used boats to reach to the capital as roads were clogged by traffic.

"This is an uprising of dignity," said Fares Soeid, spokesperson of the March 14 alliance.


"They [Hezbollah] are trying to defame us and our slogans to make their people believe we are working for the interest of Israel. We tell them we work for the interest of Lebanon," said Mustpaha Aloush, a lawmaker in Hariri's parliamentary bloc.

Hariri last month announced he was going into opposition, after his unity government collapsed in January when Hezbollah and its allies pulled out of his cabinet after a dispute over the United Nations-backed tribunal investigating his father's assassination in 2005.

The tribunal is expected to indict Hezbollah members.

The collapse of the Hariri government, which is backed by Saudi Arabia, has shifted the balance of political power in Lebanon towards Hezbollah, which is supported by Syria and Iran.

Despite the tight security measures adopted by the Lebanese army for the rally, participants said that some of their buses were stoned as they passed through areas in Hezbollah hands.