Beirut: Lebanese bury slain MP
Lebanese politicians and thousands of mourners turned out Friday for the funeral of anti-Syrian MP Antoine Ghanem, who was assassinated earlier this week.
"Lebanon's soil has been drenched with the blood of our martyrs, but those who wish evil for Lebanon, who will not stop until they are deterred, will be deterred," vowed former president Amin Gemayel as he addressed mourners packed into the Sacred Heart church east of Beirut.
"Your martyrdom is but an incentive to carry out the presidential election," added Gemayel, referring to a vote in parliament next Tuesday to replace the current pro-Syrian president Emile Lahoud.
Apart from Gemayel, whose own son industry minister Pierre was slain last November, ruling majority leaders Saad Hariri, Walid Jumblatt, Samir Geagea and others attended the funeral held under tight security, AFP reported.
Gemayel said he feared the long-running crisis between the government and the Hizbullah-led opposition would lead to the country's division and charged that the standoff over the presidency was "just meant to end the Christian role at the top of the state."
After the ceremony, Ghanem's coffin, draped in the Lebanese and his Christian Phalange party flags, were taken for burial along with those of his two slain bodyguards. Ghanem was buried in the cemetery of the nearby Furn el-Shebak neighbourhood.
Thousands of men, women and children, as well as foreign diplomats turned out for the funeral of the 64-year-old member of parliament.
It was the second assassination to hit the Phalange party in the past 12 months, after Pierre Gemayel was assassinated last November.
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