BEIRUT/SIDON: Thousands of people gathered in Lebanon's squares Tuesday night on the 27th consecutive day of nationwide protests.
Beirut's Riad al-Solh Square, Tripoli's Al-Nour Square and downtown Nabatieh all hosted large crowds, calling for an end to the sectarian system that has ruled Lebanon for decades, state corruption and the squandering of public funds.
Dozens protested outside the French Embassy in Beirut against foreign intervention in Lebanon. The director of the French Foreign Ministry's MENA department, Christophe Farnaud, arrived in Lebanon just hours earlier for an official visit, during which he will meet a number of top officials.
Earlier in the day, students from multiple Lebanese universities and schools marched Riad al-Solh Square after closing off state institutions earlier in the morning.
As the nationwide uprising nears its fourth week, schools and universities shut down as protesters and students took to the streets.
“We’re trying to bring life back to the revolution, as many people are starting to get tired,” a student walking to Riad al-Solh Square said.
Students at Lebanese University gathered outside the institution's administration building in Mathaf. They were joined by others from American University of Beirut, Lebanese American University, Lebanese International University, Notre Dame University, Saint Joseph University, Haigazian University and the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik. They gathered near the "Ring Bridge" before taking off in a march towards Riad al-Solh Square .
School students, who have been playing an increasingly important role in the uprising, protested Tuesday morning outside the Education Ministry near Verdun. They later joined university students in the march.
After calls for a nationwide strike, many roads were blocked earlier in the day.
The southern entrance of Tripoli at Bohssas was blocked off for several hours by burning tires and dirt. Other roads in Aley, Akkar, Abdeh, Minyeh, Deir Ammar and Qubb Elias in the Bekaa were also blocked off for hours during the day.
In Beirut, Charles Helou Road and the “Ring Bridge” were briefly cut off in the early hours of Tuesday.
Protesters also gathered outside the Justice Palace and Justice Ministry in the Adlieh area of Beirut. They briefly blocked the road before gathering outside the nearby Beirut Bar Association, leading to a scuffle between one of the lawyers and some of the protesters.
Employees of the mobile operators Alfa and Touch also went on strike, protesting outside the companies’ buildings in Dekwaneh and Beirut Central District, respectively.
The employees called for the renewal of their collective work contract and maintenance of their full rights and benefits.
They also said that they oppose reductions to their annual salaries.
Caretaker Telecommunications Minister Mohamed Choucair informed the employees earlier this year that the ministry had not agreed on the payment of an annual salary increase owed to them, and that it could not give guarantees to safeguard the rights and benefits included in a previous collective work contract.
In Sidon, protesters blocked the entrances of the state-run Electricite du Liban and telecoms company Ogero. Protesters also went to exchange dealers and put up signs outside their offices showing an exchange rate of LL1,515 to the dollar, close to the official exchange rate. Exchange dealers have been recently selling the dollar at around LL1,800, owing to a dollar liquidity crunch.
In Nabatieh, a demonstration was held in the city before protesters gathered in Kfar Roummane at noon.
A nationwide uprising that began on Oct. 17 has seen hundreds of thousands of Lebanese citizens take to the streets, in protest against the ruling class and rampant state corruption.
Saad Hariri resigned from his post as prime minister Oct. 29, bringing down the government.
Protesters have since criticized President Michel Aoun’s delay in calling for binding parliamentary consultations, which are constitutionally mandated to name the person who will form the new government. - Additional reporting by Mohammed Zaatari