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Lebanese journalists protest killing of Tueini

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Beirut (dpa) - Some 200 journalists staged a one-hour silent protest on Monday to mark one week since the killing of anti-Syrian Lebanese MP and journalist Jubran Tueini.

The protest came as anti-Syrian politicians held an emergency meeting at which they demanded the resignation of pro-Syrian Lebanese President Emile Lahoud, and vowed to confront the Syrian regime's "terrorist and aggressive role" in Lebanon.

The journalists' protest saw those taking part stand in silence for an hour in front the An Nahar newspaper building, bearing a giant portrait of the slain Tueini. "The difference between darkness and a word," a slogan read.

Tueini's widow, Siham, and two daughters stood with the journalists and photographers who laid their cameras on the floor for several minutes in a sign of protest.

At the end of the protest, the Lebanese journalists recited a pledge made by Jubran earlier this year as he campaigned for the Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon.

"I pledge to God, Moslems and Christians, to stand united until eternity, in defence of our great Lebanon," the protestors shouted.

Tueini, 48, was killed last Monday in a massive car bomb attack along with three other people. An Anhar had also lost Samir Kassir, an anti-Syrian journalist, in a similar attack on June 2.

Lebanon has been hit by 15 bombings since the assassination of former prime minister Rafik Hariri on February 14.

Popular protests following the Hariri assassination and international pressure led to the withdrawal of Syrian troops following 29 years of military presence and severed ties with Lebanon's erstwhile powerbroker.

The emergency meeting of anti-Syrian politicians meanwhile saw Christian and Moslem participants call for consensus among the various Lebanese factions to confront Damascus and its allies in Lebanon.

The conferees, who make up the majority of the Lebanese parliament, also renewed their call for the resignation of President Emile Lahoud, whom they branded "the number one symbol of the (former pro-Syrian) security regime".

They said in a statement that Lahoud should be removed for "obstructing the path of the nation toward freedom" while his close aides had been implicated in the assassination of former prime minister Rafik Hariri.

Four of Lahoud's top security officials were among a number of suspects detained over the February 14 assassination of premier Hariri.

In a related development, Druze opposition leader Walid Jumblatt was quoted as telling an Arab satellite channel that ant-Syrian leaders are being targeted in an attempt to wipe out their political dominance.

"The murderers' objective is to kill enough MPs to bring about a change in the balance of power within parliament and make the country ungovernable," Jumblatt said. "A change within parliament may be the prelude to a return of Syrian domination."

The main groups of the parliamentary majority include Hariri's Future Current, the leftist Democratic gathering, the Lebanese forces of Christian leader Samir Geagea and the Progressive Socialist party led by Jumblatt.

Meanwhile late Monday, the anti-Syrian youth movements, largely credited for the popular "uprising of the Independence" that forced Syria out of Lebanon in April, announced the inauguration of a protest camp in central Martyrs' square.

"We are setting this camp again to force Lahoud to leave or be removed from power, enhance the security measures in the country and release all Lebanese detainees from Syria," said the head of one youth movement, Nader al Naqib.

The youth movements set up a large metallic tent near the statue of the martyrs, where youths have maintained a protest since Hariri's assassination and until Syria's military pullout on April 26.

The camp is also a few metres away from where Hariri was buried along with his six bodyguards.

Copyright 2005 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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