The countdown has begun for the commemoration of the fifth anniversary of the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri on February 14th. Preparations are under way to gather a large number of his followers and supporters of the March 14 alliance.
This is the first year in which the remembrance takes place while Saad, Rafik Hariri's son, is serving as prime minister. It is also the first since MP Walid Jumblatt, one of the pillars of the March 14 Alliance, left the coalition.
The anniversary may become an official occasion, which would require the attendance of the leaders of the March 8 Alliance, notably Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri.
Apart from which officials will participate, the crowds of people who usually participate in the commemoration, particularly those responsible for creating the scene of two million people protesting on March 14th five years ago, have begun preparing themselves to go to Freedom Square in downtown Beirut where Hariri is buried.
Lina Muhammad from Beirut says she is going "because the truth hasn't come out yet."
"I'll keep going every year to mark the anniversary until the job of the international tribunal is finished," she says.
Lina's reasons for participating are a mixture of her view of the anniversary as "an expression of loyalty for a prime minister who was, and still is, as big as the nation", and her inability to "move on from the incident while there are still doubts about the past." She said that "in order for us to forget we first have to hold the person who did this crime against Lebanon accountable."
Another young Beiruti woman, Nadine Shehab, says that "participation in this national day is a way of saying 'no' to those seeking to destroy Lebanon and to crush its people. It's a way of confirming that Sheikh Rafik is the leader of the nation and following a path towards building a state of people and development, a state of law and institutions, a state of justice and truth."
Beqaa resident Ali Al-Husseini is also preparing to go to Freedom Square.
"It is a disgrace not to participate in the remembrance of the martyrdom of a great leader of Rafik Hariri's stature. This man gave his life in the service of the people and their interests," he says.
"Since his death to this day I haven't missed the anniversary because this matter is sacred as far as I and my family are concerned," he says.
Regarding the significance of the occasion, Al-Husseini says that "it expresses a complete rejection of the subjugation and despotism which was practised against Rafik Hariri by the rulers of that bad period."
Plans to visit Freedom Square are also being made in the north of the country, according to Akkar resident Faisal Al-Mir.
Al-Mir said "preparations are underway for a huge crowd to come from Akkar to Freedom Square, young and old, women and old men." Al-Mir cites Akkar residents' love for Prime Minister Hariri.
"We will come for the sake of the martyr Hariri and for all of the martyrs of the Cedar Revolution," he adds. "This is a remembrance of our prime minister, our leader and our great man. If we don't commemorate it, who will?"