Lebanon News

Timeline of March 14 trials and tribulations

Protesters gather in Downtown Beirut following the assassination of Rafik Hariri in 2005. (The Daily Star/Mahmoud Kheir)

Once an emerging movement composed of major political parties demonstrating against Syria’s military presence and political influence in Lebanon, the March 14 coalition has experienced periods inside and outside government over the last eight years, while suffering a string of assassinations and attacks on its leading figures.

Birth of the coalition

- March 14, 2005

One month after the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, hundreds of thousands of supporters from the Future Movement, the Lebanese Forces, the Kataeb Party, the Progressive Socialist Party and the Free Patriotic Movement take to the streets in Downtown Beirut to demand that Syria withdraw its army from Lebanon after nearly three decades.

They also call for uncovering the truth behind Hariri’s assassination. The massive rally occurs just days after Hezbollah and other Syrian allies stage their own rally on March 8 to show their gratitude for Syria’s support.

- April 2005

Syrian troops leave Lebanon.

- June 2005

The March 14 alliance wins a majority in Parliament during elections. The FPM participates in polls separately and in February 2006 signs a memorandum of understanding with Hezbollah. Journalist Samir Kassir is assassinated on June 2 and ex-Lebanese Communist Party leader George Hawi on June 21. A series of assassinations follow and continue for two years, including that of Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel in November, Beirut MP Gibran Tueni in December, Beirut MP Walid Eido in June 2007 and Aley MP Antoine Ghanem in September 2007. March 14 journalist May Chidiac survives an attempt on her life in September 2005.

- July 2005

Fouad Siniora forms a government, with a majority of ministers from the March 14 coalition. Special Tribunal for Lebanon

- November 2006

The Amal Movement and Hezbollah ministers resign after Siniora’s government requests that the U.N. Security Council establish the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. The March 8 coalition demands veto power.

- May 2007

The U.N. agrees to form the STL, tasked with the aim of indicting Hariri’s assassins. It issues an indictment of four Hezbollah members in June 2011.

May 2008 strife and Doha Accord

- May 2008

Pro-Hezbollah gunmen overrun west Beirut after Siniora’s government decides to dismantle the party’s private telecommunications network. Clashes erupt in Chouf between Hezbollah and PSP fighters. A Qatari-brokered deal in Doha ends the violence.

The Doha agreement seeks to elect Army commander Gen. Michel Sleiman as president, to grant the March 8 coalition veto power in the new Cabinet and to hold the 2009 parliamentary elections based on an amended version of the 1960 law.

- July 2008

Siniora forms his second government following Sleiman’s election. The March 14 coalition retains a government majority and the March 8 camp gets veto powers.

March 14 retains House majority, Hariri forms unity government

- June 2009

The March 14 coalition wins another majority in Parliament. Two months later, PSP leader Walid Jumblatt withdraws from the alliance, saying he initially joined out of necessity.

After deliberating for five months, Hariri forms a national unity Cabinet dominated by March 14. March 8 ministers retain their veto power.The fall of Hariri’s Cabinet,

March 14 joins opposition

- January 2011

March 8 ministers resign after Hariri’s government refuses to sever ties with the STL. The Cabinet disbands as a result.

The March 8 coalition and Jumblatt nominate Najib Mikati for the premiership. Jumblatt says he stands by Syria and Hezbollah.

- March 2011

With the start of the uprisings in Syria, the March 14 alliance voices its support for the Syrian opposition. A staunch supporter of the uprising, Hariri tasks Zahle MP Oqab Saqr to provide humanitarian aid to the Syrian people.

- April 2011

Hariri leaves the country for security reasons.

- June 2011

Mikati forms his March 8-dominated government, making the March 14 coalition the new opposition party.

Cracks emerge in alliance over electoral law

- March 2013

Disagreements surface between members of the coalition over which electoral law should govern the June 2013 parliamentary elections.

The Kataeb and the LF support the Orthodox Gathering proposal, which would enable every sect to elect its own MPs under a proportional representation system with the entirety of Lebanon as a single district.

But the Future Movement and independent March 14 figures oppose the draft, saying it will stoke sectarian division. Siniora says in March the coalition “is not doing well,” but “will emerge from its crisis stronger than ever.”

- October 2012

After a four-year lull, assassination attempts resume after a car bomb kills Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hasan, the head of the Internal Security Forces Information Branch. Hasan was close to Hariri.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 13, 2013, on page 4.




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