Chirac accused over Beirut visit

Lebanese Defence Minister Abd al-Rahim Murad has accused French President Jacques Chirac of encouraging the opposition during a visit to pay condolences after the assassination of former prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri.

    Chirac paid condolences to al-Hariri's family on Wednesday

    "When President Jacques Chirac came to Lebanon, he ignored

    completely the government, the president of the republic and

    everybody," Murad told state Tele-Liban television on Saturday.

    "Then he came to accuse, help the opposition to escalate and

    encourage the opposition to escalate," he said.

    Chirac demanded on Wednesday that "light be shed" on the murder of

    his friend al-Hariri before paying his respects at the graveside.

    "The heinous crime, which seems to be from another era, which

    Rafiq al-Hariri was a victim of, has triggered the horror and

    consternation of the entire international community which now

    demands that light be shed in this indescribable and abominable

    act," Chirac said.

    Huge loss

    Al-Hariri was killed in a massive bomb blast in Beirut on Monday

    and France has called for an international inquiry.

    "Rafiq al-Hariri held up the banner of democracy and freedom"

    Jacques Chirac,
    French president

    Chirac said al-Hariri's death "is a huge loss for Lebanon and the

    world". 

    "Rafiq al-Hariri held up the banner of democracy and freedom and

    pushed for the country's sovereignty and independence. I can testify

    to that," Chirac added.

    After spending time with mourners at al-Hariri's mansion home, the

    French president visited the grave accompanied by his wife

    Bernadette and al-Hariri's widow, Nazik al-Hariri.

    The Lebanese opposition, which has denounced the country's

    pro-Damascus government and Syria itself for the killing, called

    on Friday for a peaceful uprising for independence.

    It demanded that the government resign and that an interim

    government be installed to oversee a Syrian withdrawal from the country

    it dominates.

    SOURCE: AFP


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