Son of Slain Lebanon Leader to Seek Post

By HUSSEIN DAKROUB, Associated Press Writer

BEIRUT, Lebanon – A son of slain former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri promised Sunday to achieve his father’s plan for a sovereign Lebanon and formally announced a list of candidates for Beirut’s 19 parliamentary seats.

In an apparent swipe at Syria, which dominated Lebanon’s politics for nearly three decades before withdrawing its troops last month, Saad Hariri told a crowd of hundreds that every vote is a “vote against the criminals who killed Rafik Hariri and tried to enslave Lebanon.”

Meanwhile, the Druse leader Walid Jumblatt announced an election coalition with his former civil war enemies, the Lebanese Forces, who were the nation’s most powerful Christian militia during the 1975-90 civil war.

The anti-Syrian opposition is hoping to seize control of parliament and break the hold on power of Syria’s allies in the elections, due to begin May 29 and be held in four stages.

Hariri urged supporters to vote in large numbers as a show of loyalty to his father, whose Feb. 14 assassination was the catalyst that led to Syria’s withdrawal.

He said his father’s project involved developing state institutions, fighting corruption and improving the economy.

“The black terrorist hands will not be able to stop Rafik Hariri’s project,” he said.

The former premier and 20 others died in a massive bombing in Beirut that targeted his motorcade. The Lebanese opposition blamed the Beirut government and its Syrian backers for involvement in the assassination, charges both governments deny. The United Nations will send an international investigation team to probe the assassination.

Saad Hariri’s ticket included Solange Gemayel, the widow of President-elect Bashir Gemayel, who was killed in a 1982 bombing in Beirut. Solange Gemayel and two other candidates on Hariri’s ticket have already won uncontested seats.

Jumblatt said his coalition with the Lebanese Forces affirmed “a political alliance aimed at confirming the major national reconciliation” that was reached between Druse and Maronite Christians in 2001.