Muscat Daily

Le­banon marks first an­niver­sary of na­tion­wide protest move­ment

- Politics · Lebanon · Beirut · Beirut Governorate

Beirut, Le­banon - Le­banon marks the first an­niver­sary on Satur­day of a non-sec­tar­ian protest move­ment that has rocked the po­lit­i­cal elite but has yet to achieve its goal of sweep­ing re­form.

Three prime min­is­ters have re­signed since the move­ment started but the coun­try’s barons, many of them war­lords from the 1975-90 civil war, re­main firmly in power de­spite in­ter­na­tional as well as do­mes­tic pres­sure for change. De­mon­stra­tors plan to march from the main Beirut protest camp to­wards the port - the site of a dev­as­tat­ing Au­gust 4 ex­plo­sion, which has been widely blamed on the al­leged cor­rup­tion and in­com­pe­tence of the hered­i­tary elite.

There they will hold a can­dlelit vigil near ground zero at 6.07pm, the pre­cise time when a huge stock­pile of am­mo­nium ni­trate fer­tiliser ex­ploded, killing more than 200 peo­ple and dev­as­tat­ing swathes of the cap­i­tal.

Ac­tivists have in­stalled a statue at the site to mark the an­niver­sary of their Oc­to­ber 17 ‘revo­lu­tion’. “We still don’t recog­nise” our po­lit­i­cal lead­ers as le­git­i­mate, said one prom­i­nent pro­tester, who gave her name only as Melissa. “We are still on the street... stand­ing to­gether in

Le­banese ac­tivists erect a me­tal­lic mon­u­ment with ‘Oc­to­ber 17’ writ­ten on it, a day ahead of the first an­niver­sary of the be­gin­ning of a na­tion­wide protest move­ment, in the coun­try’s cap­i­tal Beirut on Fri­day

the face of a cor­rupt gov­ern­ment,” the 42 year old said.

The im­me­di­ate trig­ger for last year’s protests was a gov­ern­ment move to tax What­sApp calls, but they swiftly swelled into a na­tion­wide move­ment de­mand­ing an end to the sys­tem of con­fes­sional power-shar­ing it says has re­warded cor­rup­tion and in­com­pe­tence.

The coun­try’s deep­est eco­nomic down­turn since the civil

war has led to grow­ing un­em­ploy­ment, poverty and hunger, push­ing many ac­tivists to look for bet­ter op­por­tu­ni­ties abroad.

A spi­ralling coro­n­avirus out­break since Fe­bru­ary prompted a ban on pub­lic gath­er­ings but even with­out pro­test­ers on the streets pub­lic re­sent­ment has grown.

The ex­plo­sion at Beirut port prompted the protest move­ment to shift most of its en­ergy to re­lief op­er­a­tions to fill in for what it

sees as an ab­sent state.

The protest move­ment and its sup­port­ers are ea­ger to show the virus has not snuffed out their cause.

‘Year two of the Thawra’, read the main head­line in the French­language daily L’Ori­ent-Le Jour, us­ing the Ara­bic word for ‘revo­lu­tion’ which for most Le­banese has be­come syn­ony­mous with the protest move­ment.

 ?? (AFP) ??
(AFP)

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Oman