Lebanese politician George Hawi assassinated as historic elections end

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Tuesday, June 21, 2005

A veteran Lebanese politician, George Hawi, was assassinated today in Beirut. Hawi's death came as a grim punctuation mark to the final round of parliamentary elections in Lebanon, the first since Syrian occupation ended earlier this year. Hawi was formerly the secretary of the Lebanese Communist Party. He had long been a Syrian ally, but recently became a critic of Syrian influence in the country.

Former Prime Minister of Lebanon Rafik Hariri.

George Hawi's assassination came on the heels of the conclusion of the last round of parliamentary elections in Lebanon, which saw a coalition of opposition candidates led by Saad Hariri, son of former Prime Minister of Lebanon Rafik Hariri, capture a majority of seats.

Hawi is the third prominent anti-Syrian figure to be assassinated in Lebanon, and the second this month. Rafiq Hariri was assassinated on February 14th; his death led to international pressure for Syria to end its occupation of the country, which it did. More recently, journalist Samir Kassir was killed on June 2nd. Hawi's stepson, Rafi Madoyan, said in a statement, "Those who killed him are the same as those who killed Rafiq Hariri and Samir Kassir, it’s the security regime that is in power." United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice expressed similar sentiments, accusing Syria of contributing to instability in Lebanon.

In denying the "security regime" allegations, President Emile Lahoud denounced the murder and promised to investigate. "With regard to the persistent suggestion that the president is linked to the so-called security state, everyone knows that he does not directly supervise the security agencies," the presidency said in a statement. "Is it a coincidence that this crime happens today, a few hours after the end of parliamentary elections which the world saw take place democratically?"