Trying to make their way through a dense crowd of mourners in the Lebanese capital, pallbearers carried the coffins of assassinated deputy Antoine Ghanem and his two bodyguards. Thousands of people gathered in the streets of Christian east Beirut for the funeral of the latest anti-Syrian figure to be killed in Lebanon.
From balconies, mourners in tears threw rice and rose-petals at the procession. Draped in flags of Lebanon and the Phalange Party, to which Ghanem belonged, the coffins were taken to the Sacred Heart church for a mass attended by senior Lebanese and international politicians, before being laid to rest at a nearby cemetary.
Druze leader Walid Jumblatt was there along with Saad Hariri, the son of former prime minister Rafik Hariri, whose assassination in 2005 triggered the pullout of Syrian troops from Lebanon. The killing comes just days ahead of a crucial vote in parliament to elect a new president.
Amin Gemayel, head of the Phalange Party, whose son was assassinated nearly a year ago, warned of the consequences if the election was not held on time. Despite efforts by rival leaders to defuse tensions in Lebanon’s worst political crisis since the civil war, analysts do not believe they will reach a deal in time for the election to go ahead.