INTRODUCTION: The assassination in Lebanon of left-wing leader Kamal Jumblatt has plunged the country into its gravest crisis since the end of the 19-month-long civil war last October.
INTRODUCTION: The assassination in Lebanon of left-wing leader Kamal Jumblatt has plunged the country into its gravest crisis since the end of the 19-month-long civil war last October. There have been mass demonstrations throughout the country, and at least 150 people have been killed in religious clashes.
SYNOPSIS: Kamal Jumblatt, a hereditary chieftain of the Moslem Druze, was the founder and leader of the Progressive Socialist Party. He died in his car in an ambush on Wednesday (16 March) on a lonely country road, when gunmen in another car opened fire on him and his companions. Also killed were his driver and escort. Jumblatt was a millionaire landlord, but also a fervent socialist who regarded himself as a disciple of Indian pacifist Mahatma Gandhi. His son, Walid Jumblatt, takes over his father's position as the Druze chieftain. During the civil war, Kamal Jumblatt emerged as leader of the leftist forces fighting to overthrow the Christian presidency, with the help of Palestinian commandos and dissident Lebanese troops. The Palestinians joined him after Mr. Jumblatt emerged as an ardent supporter of their cause of following the 1967 Middle East War, opposing all attempts by the Christian Falangists to curb their activities.
At Jumblatt's funeral, Druze religious leader Cheikh Mohammed Abou Chacra officially declared Walid as heir to his father's position as chieftain of the Druze.
Kamal Jumblatt was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize in 1972 for 'consolidation of peace among nations'.