BEIRUT/SIDON: Protesters blocked the "Ring Bridge" Thursday night after the Lebanese Army spent much of the day removing roadblocks across the country on the 29th day of nationwide protests.
An Army force opened the northern highway at Jal al-Dib at 2 p.m., removing all obstacles and preventing protesters from returning to the highway. Soldiers were seen pushing some protesters who opposed the opening of the road.
In an attempt to open the road in Zahle’s Taalabaya, the Army beat and dragged protesters away, a local resident told The Daily Star.
Live footage showed protesters throwing rocks at soldiers, saying the Army had attacked them.
In Beirut's eastern suburbs, the Army reopened the road at the Chevrolet intersection.
The Traffic Management Center said roads connecting Beirut to Dahr al-Baidar were blocked at the Chouit-Aley exit and Dhour al-Abadieh tunnel in the afternoon.
A road on the southern highway was also blocked at the Jiyyeh-Barja exit, the center said.
Several main roads across the country that had been blocked earlier in the day were reopened by noon by protesters.
But while the highway north of Beirut was reopened at Nahr al-Kalb, Jbeil and Jal al-Dib, it remained closed near Tripoli, where tires and were set alight. Firefighters later extinguished most of the fires as an Army unit arrived on the scene.
At the Nahr al-Kalb tunnel, which had been blocked with small rocks, barbed wire and metal barriers, was cleared around noon by protesters.
The highway south of Beirut at Khaldeh, where Alaa Abou Fakher was allegedly shot by a member of Army Intelligence, was blocked with burning tires. It was reopened around 9:30 a.m. Abou Fakher was laid to rest Thursday afternoon.
Protesters put up Abou Fakher's picture next to metal barriers they used to block the road.
In Sidon, protesters held a demonstration around the city and gathered outside the Justice Palace. They held a brief sit-in in solidarity with 18 people who had been detained for damaging the Tyre Rest House resort, which reportedly belongs to Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri’s wife, Randa Berri. Berri’s media office previously denied the resort was owned by any member of the speaker’s family.
Protests against the ruling class and rampant corruption have been ongoing since Oct. 17. The uprising has seen hundreds of thousands take to the streets, blocking roads and entrances to state institutions in a bid to make their voices heard.
The protesters demanded the resignation of the government and the formation of a technocratic one, early parliamentary elections and an early end to President Michel Aoun’s 3-year-old term.
Aoun gave a televised interview Tuesday in which he called for protesters to return to their homes – or leave the country.
“If they see no decent people in this state, let them emigrate. They won’t get into power,” Aoun said, addressing the protesters.
Aoun’s remarks caused outrage, driving thousands to the streets Tuesday night and Wednesday, blocking main roads across the country.
During a protest near Baabda Palace Wednesday evening, activist Khaldoun Jaber was reportedly arrested. His brother, Saeed Jaber, told Al Jadeed Wednesday morning that the family does not know where Khaldoun is detained and that his lawyer is unable to reach him. - Additional reporting by Mohammed Zaatari