Lebanese Opposition Calls for Syrian Withdrawal

Published: Tue 1 Mar 2005 12:16 AM
Opposition Demonstrates Despite Ban, Calls for Syrian Withdrawal
Close to the parliament and Rafik Hariri's grave, thousands of opposition demonstrators called for Syria to withdraw its army from Lebanon. Protesters managed to evade the security cordon and join the demonstration following a state decree that banned demonstrations and gatherings.
The demonstrators are also calling for the resignation of the government following the assassination of former premier Rafiq Al-Hariri. Waving Lebanese flags, thousands of people defied a government ban to mass in the heart of Beirut.
Protesters descended on Martyrs' Square as hundreds of heavily armed troops and police guarded surrounding streets.
The troops were friendly with them and eased their movements. Large television screens were set up to allow the protesters to watch live coverage of the parliament session.
According to opposition sources, more than 100,000 people are participating. Government sources said they were about 20,000 demonstrators. Whatever the number is, demonstrators are now asking what is the next step.
"I keep worrying about the next step because, ok, we're done with this, now what! You know I always think about the future, now what. So this is all fine I just hope we've taken care of the next step, that's it," said a protester. Some opposition MPs, took part in the demonstration, before heading to the parliament.
Druze MP walid Jumblatt addressed the crowd saying quote "Through your resistance you are writing a new page in history, one of regained independence". He added, "Together we want a sovereign and independent Lebanon, the departure of Syrian secret services and above all the truth: who killed Rafiq Hariri."
Jumblatt stressed the opposition want to be friends with the Syrian people but it want the Syrian army to go.

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