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March 14 coalition pays tribute to Shatah seven days after killing

Former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, right, and former Finance Minister Mohammad Shatah attend a press conference after a meeting with Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri in Beirut, Tuesday, May 28, 2013. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)

BEIRUT: The March 14 coalition marked the passage of seven days since the assassination of former Minister Mohammad Shatah Saturday, vowing once again to “liberate” Lebanon from Hezbollah’s control by arms. Shatah, senior aide of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, was killed in a car bomb on Dec. 27 in Downtown Beirut along with seven others including a 16-year-old boy. The explosion also wounded dozens.

Former premier Fouad Siniora, along with March 14 figures and Shatah’s family members, attended the memorial, held where he was laid to rest last week at the mausoleum of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in Martyrs’ Square.

Future Movement’s secretary-general Ahmad Hariri said the March 14 group would remain firm in the face of “illegitimate arms,” in a clear reference to Hezbollah, who the coalition blamed for Shatah’s killing.

“We prefer to be killed a thousand times by their weapons rather than carry our own [arms] against the state,” Hariri said.

“We will not surrender, but we will protect Lebanon from the destruction of arms. We will face the culture of death with our love for life and remain the righteous crowd that eliminates strife through awareness and wisdom,” he added.

“We will instead be armed with the ideas of state-building and the strength of justice to liberate Lebanon from the known and exposed threat of illegitimate arms,” Hariri said.

Hariri also spoke about the so-called “Cedar Revolution” in 2005 when thousands of people took to the streets to demand the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon, saying the March 14 coalition would remain committed to “the peaceful resistance.”

“Those who never gave in to the [Syrian] occupation or tutelage will never give in to the occupation of arms,” Hariri said.

“The Lebanese who filled the arenas in 2005 have got enough courage to protect their freedom ... Neither you nor your weapons will kill this freedom or oppress it,” Hariri added.

“For nine years, we have been resisting peacefully and politically, and today, the killers will not be victorious as long as we insist on this peaceful resistance ... that exposed those weapons murdering Lebanese and Syrians alike,” he said.

Future and its allies in the March 14 group staunchly oppose Hezbollah’s intervention in Syria, and have set their withdrawal from the conflict as a condition for forming a national unity government.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on January 06, 2014, on page 3.

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