Lebanon’s Free Patriotic Movement supporters flood downtown Beirut

Published August 12th, 2015 - 05:34 GMT

Supporters of the Free Patriotic Movement began gathering outside party offices across the country Wednesday ahead of a Beirut street protest over last week's extension of the terms of top military officers.

In Sin al-Fil, a suburb east of Beirut, party loyalists holding pictures of FPM chief Michel Aoun and waving the party’s orange flag met outside the youth sector’s headquarters.

Mobilization also began in Koura, north Lebanon, at 3:00 p.m., and protesters also plan to meet in Batroun, Jbeil and Jounieh at 4:30 p.m., at the Baabda and Metn party offices at 5:00 p.m., and plan to be in the capital’s Sassine Square at 5:30 p.m., according to FPM-affiliated media.

"Today’s movement is to object the continued violation of the Constitution and the practicing of corruption in state institutions," Antoun Soueid, head of the FPM’s youth bureau, told television reporters from the gathering in Sin al-Fil.

"The streets filled with garbage and nobody did anything about it. We are here today to speak out and say no to this political oppression,” he added.

Aoun on Tuesday urged his supporters to take to the streets to protest what he says is the government's marginalization of Christian rights and violations of the Constitution exemplified by the extension of the terms of security officers.

Defense Minister Samir Moqbel last week extended the terms of army commander Gen. Jead Kahwagi, military Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Walid Salman and Higher Defense Council chief Gen. Mohammad Kheir by one year each, despite fierce opposition from Aoun.

Aoun has been pressing the government to appoint new military and security chiefs. He was also lobbying for his son-in-law Brig. Gen. Shamel Roukoz to be appointed army commander.

Last month, seven soldiers and 17 protesters were wounded near the Grand Serail in Downtown Beirut in a scuffle between the Lebanese army and FPM supporters protesting the government for ignoring the FPM's demand to prioritize the issue of security and military appointments

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