Rafiq al- Hariri


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(b. 1944, d. 14 Feb. 2005).

Prime Minister of Lebanon, 1992–8; 2000–4 Born in Sidon, into a poor family, he studied at Beirut American University and in 1966 emigrated to Saudi Arabia, whose citizenship he acquired. He founded his own construction business, and became active in banking and real estate. One of the world's wealthiest men, his fortune is estimated at around $4bn. He tried to mediate a peaceful solution to the Lebanese civil war in the 1980s, and was instrumental in securing the Taif Accord of 1989. In 1992, he was asked to lead the government. In his first two terms in office, he stabilized the currency, and spent much energy (and some of his personal fortune) in rebuilding Beirut. He was confirmed in office in 1996, but in 1998 he was dismissed by the President owing to personal disagreements. In 2000, however, candidates supporting him won the general elections on the promise of economic improvements. In response, the President, Émile Lahoud, asked Hariri to form another government. His second period in office was characterized by his rivalry with the Syrian‐backed Lahoud. Hariri proposed the privatization of state‐owned companies to reduce state debt, a move which Lahoud opposed. Hariri ultimately resigned. He was killed in a car bomb attack a few months later, a move widely believed to have been instigated by Syria.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).

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