Hariri makes rare visit to Beirut on 11th anniversary of his father’s assassination
BEIRUT - Former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri made a rare visit to Lebanon on Sunday, arriving in Beirut on the 11th anniversary of the assassination of his father, Rafik al-Hariri, an airport official said.
It is only his third visit to the country since he left in 2011 after his government was toppled by the March 8 coalition that includes the powerful Shiite group Hezbollah.
Hariri is Lebanon's most influential Sunni politician and is backed by Saudi Arabia.
His last visit was for the same occasion last year.
The former leader will speak at a ceremony dedicated to Rafik al-Hariri in central Beirut on Saturday, state news agency NNA and pro-Hariri newspaper Al Mustaqbal said. Earlier in the day, soldiers patrolled streets near the venue and blocked off traffic.
Rafik al-Hariri was killed in a 2005 suicide lorry bombing that brought the country back to the brink of civil war.
Five members of Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah have been indicted over his death by an international tribunal in The Hague, which is being closely watched in Lebanon.
The trial in absentia began in January 2014 and Hezbollah has denied any involvement in the killing.
The assassination pushed Saad into political life.
Despite the animosity between the two groups, Saad’s Future Movement is now working with Hezbollah to contain sectarian tensions back in Lebanon that have been exacerbated by the war in Syria.
The four-year-old conflict involves mostly Sunni insurgents who oppose Syrian president Bashar Al Assad, a member of the Shiite-derived Alawite minority, and allied Shiite groups including Hezbollah.