Massive Participation in al-Hasan's Funeral at Martyrs Square, Saniora Says No Dialogue before Govt. Leavesإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Thousands of mourners participated in Sunday's funeral of slain Major General Wissam al-Hasan, chief of the Internal Security Forces Intelligence Bureau, who was killed by a powerful car bombing on Friday blamed on the Damascus regime.
Anti-Syria opposition chief ex-premier Saad Hariri had called for a huge turnout for the funeral of the fallen general and thousands of people took part in the ceremony outside the Mohammed al-Amine Mosque in Beirut's Martyrs Square.
Hasan was laid to rest next to slain former prime minister Rafik Hariri whose tomb is adjacent to the mosque.
The slain general was the head of Hariri's guard platoon.
"We will not engage in dialogue before the departure of the government. We will not engage in dialogue over the blood of the martyrs and the Lebanese," said ex-PM Fouad Saniora in a speech at Mohammed al-Amine Mosque.
"This government is responsible for the assassination of martyr Maj. Gen. Wissam al-Hasan, so it must leave," he stressed.
"The latest of your achievements was unveiling the conspiracy of (ex-minister Michel) Samaha and (Syrian security chief Ali) al-Mamlouk, so they killed you," Saniora added, addressing al-Hasan.
Saniora called on Prime Minister Najib Miqati to resign or be "accused of covering the criminals."
He also called for forming a "salvation government that represents the Lebanese" and replaces "the government that is trying cover up the crime."
"If you stay in your position, that means that you approve what happened and what will happen ... This government was born from the womb of Hizbullah and Syria," Saniora added.
Hasan investigated the 2005 assassination of ex-PM Hariri in a car bombing also blamed on Syria.
His wife and children on Saturday flew back to Beirut from Paris where he had taken them for safety. His wife Anna was in tears as she arrived at the Beirut Rafik Hariri International Airport with sons Mazen, 17, and Majed, 12.
Hasan was also close to ex-PM Saad Hariri and hostile to the regime in Syria. He had been tipped to take over as ISF head at the end of this year.
"We are going to bid farewell to Wissam al-Hasan, but we want to continue what we embarked on in 2005," said al-Mustaqbal bloc MP Ahmed Fatfat.
"The Syrians left Lebanon then, and we want to prevent them for good from returning; we also want the Iranians out," he said, in a reference to Assad's chief regional ally.
He also accused the government and Hizbullah of wanting to "bring Bashar Assad back to Lebanon."
Hours before the 4:00 pm (1300 GMT) funeral, hundreds of people were making their way amid heavy security to Martyrs Square, which was dotted with huge billboards of a saluting Hasan and the slogan "a martyr for truth and justice."
Many carried the flag of Lebanon or those of al-Mustaqbal Movement and the Lebanese Forces. Others held placards with photos of Hasan and slain PM Rafik Hariri.
“One Revolution in Two States,” read a banner carried by mourners.
Tamam Ali, a 27-year-old Mustaqbal activist, warned: "It's not just today. We were here yesterday and we'll be here tomorrow and in the future.
"First of all, we want the fall of this government. We want the Syrian embassy kicked out and we want an end to Hizbullah's power of arms."
Law student Manal Sharqawy said "the Syrians are no longer here, but there are Lebanese who work for them. The government is responsible for what happened and we want them to leave."
Hizbullah called Friday's attack "an attempt to destabilize Lebanon and national unity." Syria condemned what it called a "terrorist, cowardly" attack.
A ceremony was also held to "honor and mourn" Hasan at ISF headquarters, after which his body was transferred to the Mohammed al-Amine Mosque that dominates the skyline of central Beirut for the funeral.
The ISF played a central role in the arrest in August of former Lebanese information minister Michel Samaha, who has close links to Damascus and was charged with planning attacks in Lebanon and transporting explosives in collaboration with Syrian security chief Maj. Gen. Ali Mamlouk.
The opposition March 14 camp has accused the Syrian regime of the assassination and called on Prime Minister Najib Miqati to resign.
Miqati revealed on Saturday that he has taken the decision to “no longer hang on to the premiership,” urging the formation of a national unity government.
He said: “I suspended my decision to resign at President Michel Suleiman's request.”
He made his statements after an extraordinary cabinet session held at the Baabda Palace in wake of the assassination.
The premier explained that Suleiman requested a timeframe for him to consult with members of the national dialogue table over his decision not to remain in the premiership.
Miqati told reporters: “The request for a timeframe stems from a realization that Lebanon is facing a plan to create strife in the country.”
“This is a national issue and we are keen on an preserving the nation. We do not want to leave Lebanon in a vacuum,” he declared.
“Those who have placed personal gain over national interests have met a bad fate, such as exile or assassination,” he added.
“I call on the politicians to unite, set their differences aside, and make the formation of a new government an easy task,” demanded the premier.
On Hasan's murder, he revealed that cabinet decided to refer the case to the judicial council.
He also demanded that the Telecommunications Minister hand over the telecom data in the case, dating back to September 19, to the investigation.
“I do not want to jump to conclusions in the case, but we cannot separate Hasan's murder to that of the arrest of former Minister Michel Samaha,” Miqati noted.
Hasan was killed on Friday in a powerful car bombing in the Ashrafiyeh district in Beirut.
Conflicting reports emerged over the number of dead in the blast with some sides putting the figure at three and others at eight.
At least a hundred people were wounded in the explosion.