The message in Beirut today was clear. Businesses were closed, the people furious at yesterday’s bombing which killed an anti-Syrian MP, plus four others, and injured 71 more. In the press they’re raising the spectre of another civil war amid fears that the political divisions over the presidency could lead to the creation of two rival governments.
Saad Hariri, the son of former Prime Minster Rafik al Hariri, assassinated the same way two years ago, insisted the presidency belongs to the people of Lebanon, not any particular faction. But it is members of parliament who must now choose a replacement for Syrian ally, President Emile Lahoud, and they are deeply, fatally, divided.
“This is not acceptable,” said this man. “What crime did the innocent walking on the street commit?” “I hope we will have a new president who will repair the country,” said another. “It’s not just politicians who are dying but innocent people as well.”
64 year-old MP Antoine Ghanem, the apparent target of yesterday’s car bomb, had only returned to Lebanon a couple of days earlier. He was the eighth anti-Syrian figure to be killed in three years. Damascus continues to deny any involvement.