March 14 Student Bodies Rally at Foreign Ministry to Demand Syrian Ambassador’s Expulsion

Various March 14 student and youth organizations held a rally on Wednesday in front of the Foreign Ministry headquarters in the Ashrafiyeh district in Beirut to demand the expulsion of Syrian Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdul Karim Ali.

The organizers said the demo was staged to “protest the security chaos and demand the release of the abductees and detainees in Syrian prisons and the expulsion of Syrian Ambassador Ali Abdul Karim Ali.”

The demonstrators also called for the termination of the cooperation agreement between Lebanon and Syria.

The demonstrators started gathering around 7:00 p.m. near Saint Joseph University in Huvelin street before heading to the Foreign Ministry in the Sofil neighborhood in Ashrafiyeh.

Alongside the flags of their parties and movements, the demonstrators carried the Syrian rebel flag and banners condemning the Syrian ambassador.

Several political figures also took part in the protest, such as MPs Ahmed Fatfat, Ammar Houri and Nadim Gemayel; March 14 General-Secretariat Coordinator Fares Soaid; ex-MP Elias Atallah; March 14 general-secretariat members Naufal Daou, Elie Mahfoud and Elias al-Zoghbi; journalist May Chidiac; and activists Fadi Ghosn, Michel Hajji-Georgiou, Toufic al-Hendi and Marwan Saqr.

The heads of the student bodies announced that they will “stage further sit-ins until the Syrian ambassador is expelled.”

The Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc voiced its support on Tuesday for the rally, reiterating the movements’ demands for the expulsion of the ambassador and the suspension of the Lebanese-Syrian Higher Council.

Lebanese Forces sources told al-Akhbar newspaper in remarks published on Wednesday that the March 14 rally was prompted by the charges against Syrian security chief Ali al-Mamlouk of forming a criminal group, in cooperation with former minister Michel Samaha, to carry out attacks in Lebanon.

“The Lebanese state has not lifted a finger to question the Syrian ambassador over the Syrian regime’s evil intentions towards Lebanon and the Lebanese people,” they added.

“Answers and clarifications are needed otherwise the ambassador must be expelled,” they continued.

“This rally is the beginning of escalatory measures that should yield national demands,” they declared.

The youth organizations had stressed during their coordination meetings in preparation for the rally the "democratic and peaceful" nature of their movement, which they said will act as a “turning point” and lead to the participation of other March 14 groups in possible future rallies, An Nahar daily reported.

The youth groups that took part in the rally were those of the Mustaqbal Movement, the Lebanese Forces, the Phalange Party, the National Liberal Party, the National Bloc and al-Jamaa al-Islamiya.

Various March 14 sources told al-Akhbar that the movement might either present President Michel Suleiman with a memorandum over Syria’s repeated violations against Lebanon that includes the students’ demands or stage an open-ended rally in front of the Foreign Ministry or the Grand Serail.

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