Hundreds of thousands of Lebanese poured into the streets of Beirut Saturday to remember slain former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
The rally on the fourth anniversary of the Sunni leader's assassination came as Lebanese politicians launched campaigns ahead of critical parliamentary elections, which will pit the nation's Western-backed coalition against the Hizbullah-led camp supported by Iran and Syria.
Sunni, Druse and Christian leaders called on Lebanese to head en masse to the polls in June, telling the crowds that the vote would boil down to a decision between an impartial and sovereign country and a state marred in conflict with neighboring Israel and dominated by regional powers.
The June 7 election "is a crossroads in the life of the democratic Lebanon," said Saad Hariri, head of the parliamentary majority and son of the slain leader, who was killed in a massive bomb explosion in central Beirut on February 14, 2005.
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