BEIRUT: Local delegations, Muslim religious leaders and politicians visited the gravesite of Rafik Hariri Thursday to pay tribute to the former Lebanese prime minister who was killed in a massive bombing eight years ago.
The eighth anniversary of Hariri's assassination brought those wishing to pay their respects to his grave next to Mohammad al-Amin Mosque in Downtown Beirut.
“What is happening in Lebanon is a continuation of the killing of Rafik Hariri and the project of Rafik Hariri, especially the main slogan: national unity and coexistence," Future Movement MP Jamal Jarrah said at the gravesite.
"We will be faithful to the 1.5 million Lebanese who chanted with [the late] Gebran Tueni: ‘We will stay united forever,’” Jarrah vowed.
He offered reassurances to the memory “Abu Bahaa,” or Rafik Hariri, that the Future Movement will carry on in his footsteps until democracy is achieved.
For his part, MP Marwan Hamade said Feb. 14 is an "ominous day,” describing the events eight years ago as an “earthquake-like” explosion.
“The earthquake aftershocks are witnessed today in some Arab capitals, particularly in beloved Damascus, where the heroic Syrian people are facing up to the regime which has harmed them for more than 40 years,” Hamade told the local Radio Orient station.
A delegation of the Democratic Renewal Movement, headed by its secretary general Antoine Haddad, also visited the tomb.
United Nations Special Coordinator Derek Plumbly also visited Hariri’s tomb to pay his respects, a statement from his press office said.
Plumbly also called Hariri's son, Saad, the statement said.
The official also condemned the repeated assassinations and attempted assassinations in Lebanon, stressing the importance of achieving justice in the country.
“The United Nations continues to underscore the need to bring those responsible to justice, and to put an end once and for all to impunity in Lebanon,” Plumbly’s statement said.
For his part, newly-appointed United States Secretary of State John Kerry reiterated Washington’s support for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon probing Hariri’s killing and condemned the recent string of political assassination bids in the country.
“Those who initiated the killing sought to undermine Lebanon's sovereignty and independence. This act of cold blooded mass murder sent shivers throughout the region,” a State Department statement quoted Kerry as saying.
“The United States reaffirms that we reject the use of assassination as a political tool by parties within or outside Lebanon,” he added.