May 30, 2005


Son of Slain Former Leader Triumphs in Beirut Vote (Megan K. Stack, May 30, 2005, LA Times)

Saad Hariri, the son of assassinated former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, swept parliamentary elections in Lebanon's capital Sunday, inheriting the public mantle left by his father and shoring up his chances of becoming prime minister.

A soft-spoken, billionaire businessman who insists that he wasn't groomed for politics, the 35-year-old Hariri headed a bloc of candidates that won all 19 of the city's seats in the first election since Syrian troops ended their 29-year domination of Lebanon.

Hariri, who presides over his father's business empire, is poised to take over the public role left vacant by the assassination three months ago. Voter turnout was light Sunday, but the win was hailed as a triumph of public confidence for the Hariri family. Hariri's campaign rhetoric was heavy with invocations of "the martyr," and pictures of the slain patriarch were plastered on shop windows, cars and even bottles of water.

"Today national unity was won in the face of the old regime. Lebanon is united in you," a beaming Hariri told hundreds of raucous well-wishers who thronged the streets outside the family's mansion, beating drums, tossing fistfuls of petals and screaming his name. "This is a win for Rafik Hariri."

And a loss for Baby Assad.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 30, 2005 8:47 AM
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