Lebanese security on high alert as protesters gather in downtown Beirut

Published September 16th, 2015 - 07:12 GMT

Security forces deployed in force Wednesday ahead of a mass demonstration expected to be stage concurrently to the second round of National Dialogue talks in Beirut's Nejmeh Square.

The entrances of Nejmeh Square, where the Parliament is located, was blocked to pedestrians unless they were carrying business cards for companies and offices operating within the security perimeter.

The road leading to the offices of An-Nahar newspaper near Martyrs' Square was closed, in addition to streets housing the Beirut Souks and Beirut's naval base.

Protesters and civil society movements began assembling in Martyrs' Square after calls by You Stink campaign and the families of Lebanese hostages held by ISIS on the northeastern border town of Arsal to converge on the area at 9:00 a.m.

You Stink campaign co-founder Assaad Thebian told the TV channel Al-Jadeed that demonstrators will begin blocking all entrances to the Parliament at 10 a.m., in an attempt to prevent politicians from reaching the National Dialogue session.

“We will act peacefully and block the roads with our bodies,” he said, adding that politicians “always block roads in the face of the people, so it will be okay if we close the roads for once.”

The National Dialogue session is set to convene at 12 p.m.

"I am here to raise the voice," another protester added.

"They [Lebanon's politicians] might be able to enter Parliament but they won't be able to leave it," he warned ominously.

The first round of a National Dialogue sponsored by Speaker Nabih Berri was held last week at the Parliament in Downtown Beirut. The talks underscored sharp differences between the rival parties over how to resolve a protracted political crisis that has plunged Lebanon into a presidential vacuum and paralyzed the executive and legislative branches of government.

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