Prime Minister Tammam Salam praised on Friday former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri on his tenth assassination anniversary for rejecting extremism and exerting all efforts to achieve peace and stability in Lebanon.
Hariri was killed on Feb. 14, 2005 in a massive bomb blast that targeted his convoy. Five Hezbollah suspects are being tried in absentia for the murder.
Ten years after Hariri’s murder, “we bow in respect of the memory of the person whose first and last passion was Lebanon,” Salam said.
The former PM exerted all efforts to achieve peace, security, sovereignty and independence, said Salam in a statement.
He called for “resorting to Hariri’s experience by consolidating moderation and dialogue that the ex-premier used in his political career as a foundation for good governance in a diverse country like Lebanon.”
Hariri “rejected extremism and worked during his political career on preserving balance and coexistence based on the Taef Accord, which he had greatly contributed to its adoption,” said the statement.
Salam lauded Hariri for consolidating the state’s institutions and democratic principles as stipulated by the constitution.
The ex-PM “also sought to strengthen the legitimate security agencies which he always considered as being solely responsible for keeping security,” Salam said.
“With Hariri’s loss, Lebanon has lost an exceptional leader who put it on the world map and brought back to it its special role in the heart of the Arab world,” he added.
U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon David Hale later issued a statement honoring the legacy of Hariri.
He said that he had first met Hariri in Damascus in 1988 when he was a junior diplomat before working more closely with him in the 1990s. Hale was later assigned to Lebanon on two occasions.
“I had the opportunity to see him more closely, and I was always struck by how accessible Rafik Hariri was, even to a young diplomat like myself, but more importantly to the Lebanese people, and I saw firsthand what a remarkable man he was,” he recalled.
“He was a great benefactor and the legacy he has left in terms of generosity in educating generations of Lebanese was really quite remarkable. He also was a remarkable visionary of a prosperous, and stable, and independent Lebanon,” he stressed.
“Those of Lebanon and Lebanon’s friend need to continue to work on that legacy, even today,” he added.
“I think as we reflect this weekend on the loss of Rafik Hariri and his fellow comrades, it is important to celebrate their legacy, but also to renew our demand for justice and for accountability for these crimes, crimes that were not just crimes against individuals, but also against the state of Lebanon,” Hale stated.
Earlier on Friday, Hale had visited the grave of Hariri to commemorate the anniversary of his assassination. The ambassador also paid his respects to slain Minister Mohammad Shatah, Major General Wissam al-Hassan, and the other individuals buried at the site.