Lebanese Protesters Give New Cabinet Thumbs Down as They Go on Beirut Rampage

Published February 11th, 2020 - 10:46 GMT
Some lawmakers spent the night in parliament to thwart protesters who have successfully prevented several sessions since the start of their movement on October 17 last year. JOSEPH EID / AFP
Some lawmakers spent the night in parliament to thwart protesters who have successfully prevented several sessions since the start of their movement on October 17 last year. JOSEPH EID / AFP

Heavy tear gas was fired Tuesday afternoon on hundreds of protesters gathered in Riad al-Solh Square, near the road leading to Nijmeh Square, while Parliament's confidence session was being held.

Protesters also set a Blom Bank branch in the area on fire, and pulled down a part of a cement wall erected on a road leading to Parliament, as Riad al-Solh was covered in clouds of tear gas smoke.

Earlier in the morning, demonstrators clashed with Army personnel and Internal Security Forces in various locations in Downtown Beirut, ahead of the vote on the new government.

Protesters’ main aim was to block roads in Downtown Beirut leading to Nijmeh Square, in order to prevent MPs from reaching Parliament for the session, as they do not approve of Prime Minister Hassan Diab’s Cabinet.

Protesters gathered near the Le Gray hotel building in Martyrs' Square, where high cement walls were erected Monday, in order to block the road leading to Nijmeh Square, where the Parliament is located.

Some protesters threw rocks to the other side of the wall, where Internal Security Forces and Army personnel were stationed, and were able to take down a small part of the wall, opening up an entrance to the road.

Security forces in turn fired water cannon and tear gas in order to disperse the protesters.

In a statement released in the morning, the Internal Security Forces asked protesters to be peaceful and to stay away from the walls and barriers for their own safety.

The ISF and Army were heavily deployed in Downtown Beirut, where protesters had gathered, including near the An Nahar building, the seaside road, Zoqaq al-Blat, Qantari, Bab Idriss, the “Ring Bridge" and around the Monroe Hotel.

Protesters and personnel from the Army Rangers clashed in Zoqaq al-Blat, near the Grand Serail, as the protesters were trying to block the road and the Army was pushing them away.

 

Environment Minister Damanios Kattar’s car was egged by protesters – as he was passing by Zoqaq al-Blat – who heavily clashed with the riot police and Army personnel.

Demonstrators also clashed with the Army on the seaside road of Martyrs’ Square, as they were trying to close the road.

At least three protesters lost consciousness and were treated by the Red Cross.

Heavy clashes between a large number of Army personnel and protesters who were hurling rocks, took place near the entrance of ESCWA, where tear gas was fired on protesters and the "Ring Bridge" was blocked.

Protesters were being pushed away at locations that lead to Nijmeh Square, and prevented from blocking roads in order to secure passage for the vehicles of MPs.

Tear gas was used in multiple locations to disperse protesters, including near Zaitunay Bay.

Supporters of Amal Movement leader Nabih Berri threw rocks at protesters in Zoqaq al-Blat and hit them with sticks.

“Riots and attacking public and private property distort the demands of protesters and do not help them achieve [the demands],” the Army said in a statement released in the morning.

According to the Lebanese Red Cross, eight teams responded at locations of protest in Downtown Beirut, 26 people were taken to hospital and 175 were treated on location.

cThis article has been adapted from its original source.


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