Lebanon News

Day 40: Protesters on the streets, but no nationwide strike

Protesters gesture towards a driver at a roadblock during ongoing anti-government demonstrations in Beirut, Lebanon November 25, 2019. (REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares)

BEIRUT/SIDON: People returned to the streets across Lebanon Monday, after calls for a nationwide strike that did not materialise, on the 40th day of Lebanon's uprising.

People gathered in demonstrations, outside state institutions and put up roadblocks in multiple areas.

The blockades started Sunday night in Beirut, Jal al-Dib, Tripoli and other areas. Shortly after Beirut’s Ring Bridge was blocked, scuffles erupted between protesters and Amal Movement and Hezbollah supporters.

The scuffles left at least three injured, while cars, shops and tents set up by protesters in Beirut’s central district were destroyed.

Monday morning, protesters sat in the middle of a road in Qantari leading to Hamra. The group of men and women were protesting against the delay in taking necessary steps to form the government.

Saad Hariri resigned from his position as prime minister on Oct. 29, bringing down the government with him.

Since the resignation, Hariri and his ministers have been serving in a caretaking capacity, but President Michel Aoun has yet to call for binding parliamentary consultations, which are constitutionally required to name a person to form the new government.

Riot police later arrived on the scene, forcibly opening the road and removing protesters to the side.

The road in Tripoli’s Bohssas area remained blocked by burning tires since Sunday night. The Lebanese Army attempted to negotiate with the protesters to open the roads. They refused to do so until their demands are met. The Army arrived later, bringing in at least five tanks. The road was reopened later in the day.

In Sidon, protesters gathered outside the offices of the state-run Electricite du Liban. The Lebanese Army was seen detaining three men for blocking the roads.

The southern highway was briefly blocked Monday morning at Jiyyeh, Barja, Naameh and Khaldeh. The roads were reopened by the Army.

Schools and universities in Sidon closed their doors.

Protesters gathered outside the military barracks in Sarba, demanding the release of friends the Army arrested overnight on the northern highway. A delegation of lawyers dispatched by the Beirut Bar Association arrived to the area, but were denied meeting the detainees.

“The detainee has the right to ask for and see a lawyer. What happened yesterday [Sunday] and the violations and using excessive violence ... it is against the law,” one of the lawyers said.

The Army said it had detained nine people in Jal al-Dib for blocking roads with “broken glass, burned oil and other substances,” in a statement released Monday. They were referred to the military police for further investigations.

Another four people were arrested by the Army "for riots" in Zouk Mosbeh.

“Three of them were released later while the fourth was referred to the military police, as he is a Syrian national,” the statement said.

Protesters have been demanding the formation of a technocratic government to fix Lebanon’s dire economic situation. People have also demanded holding corrupt officials accountable, return of looted public funds, early parliamentary elections and an early end to Aoun’s three-year-old term.

The northern highway at Jal al-Dib and Zouk Mosbeh were blocked Multiple throughfares in Bekaa also remained blocked Monday. After the Army reopened the road in Jub Jennin, protesters sat down again, halting traffic. all night Sunday, but they were reopened by 6 a.m. Monday.

 

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