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Funeral Held in Beirut for Slain Anti-Syrian Legislator

  • VOA News

Thousands of Lebanese have attended the funeral of an anti-Syrian lawmaker, whose assassination has fueled tensions ahead of a parliament session to choose the next president.

Senior lawmakers and political leaders on Friday turned out for the funeral of Antoine Ghanem, who was killed in a bomb blast in a Christian suburb of east Beirut Wednesday.

Mourners waved the white and green flag of the Phalange Party, the Christian political group to which Ghanem belonged.

Former Lebanese President Amin Gemayel eulogized Ghanem and urged lawmakers to carry out an election on Tuesday for a new president to succeed pro-Syrian head of state Emile Lahoud. Lebanon's parliament is scheduled to meet Tuesday to select a new president.

In Washington today, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and visiting French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner issued a joint statement condemning Ghanem's assassination "in the strongest possible terms."



Rice and Kouchner reaffirmed it is crucial for presidential elections to be held according to Lebanon's constitution.

Wednesday's bomb attack killed Ghanem and six other people. He was a member of the pro-government coalition locked in a power struggle with opposition groups backed by Syria.

Ghanem was the fourth member of parliament and eighth prominent anti-Syrian figure to be killed in Lebanon in the last two years. Syria has denied involvement in any of the attacks.

Thursday at the United Nations, the Security Council condemned the killing of Ghanem and demanded an immediate end to what it called the targeted assassinations of Lebanese political leaders.
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