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500,000 Rally In Beirut To Mark Anniversary Of Premier's Slaying

Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri was killed when a bomb exploded near his car (file photo) (epa) 14 February 2006 -- An estimated 500,000 people packed Lebanon's capital today to mark the first anniversary of the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri, giving new impetus to the country's anti-Syrian coalition.

In an address to the crowd, Hariri's son Saad called on Lebanon's pro-Syrian president, Emile Lahoud, to resign.

"[The Syrians] left us with the legacy of their domination at Baabda, but we tell them to remove that legacy, remove the symbol of their oppression, because the people of Lebanon will not accept any bargaining."

The Druze leader Walid Jumblatt went a step further, saying the Lebanese people will make the president leave.

Hariri's slaying led to international pressure that forced Syria to end its decades-long military presence in Lebanon. However, anti-Syrian groups say Syria continues to strongly influence Lebanese affairs.

An ongoing UN inquiry has implicated top Syrian security officials and their Lebanese allies in the assassination. Damascus denies any involvement.

(dpa, AFP, Reuters)