Le­banon in­creases se­cu­rity at protest sites af­ter vi­o­lence

Muscat Daily - - WORLD -

Beirut, Le­banon - Le­banon in­creased se­cu­rity around protest cen­tres in cen­tral Beirut on Wednesday, af­ter sev­eral nights of vi­o­lence dis­rupted two months of largely peace­ful antigov­ern­ment demon­stra­tions.

Bar­ri­cades were erected overnight to block or con­trol ac­cess to protest sites in the cap­i­tal where counter-demon­stra­tors have pre­vi­ously tried to at­tack protesters, jour­nal­ists said.

An of­fi­cer who said the con­crete bar­ri­ers were in­tended to help se­cu­rity forces bet­ter con­trol the sites and pre­vent fur­ther clashes.

Af­ter vi­o­lence be­tween protesters and se­cu­rity forces in Beirut on Satur­day and Sun­day night, and be­tween coun­ter­demon­stra­tors and po­lice on Mon­day night, the cap­i­tal re­mained calm on Tues­day.

But ten­sions were recorded else­where in the coun­try, as Le­banon awaits sched­uled par­lia­men­tary meet­ings to name a new pre­mier on Thurs­day, a re­quired step to form a Cab­i­net.

The un­prece­dented protests started on Oc­to­ber 17 against a po­lit­i­cal elite deemed in­ept and cor­rupt.

Protesters de­mand a com­plete over­haul of the rul­ing class and a new gov­ern­ment formed of in­de­pen­dent ex­perts.

Prime Min­is­ter Saad Hariri re­signed on Oc­to­ber 29, but bit­ter di­vi­sions be­tween po­lit­i­cal par­ties have twice seen par­lia­men­tary con­sul­ta­tions to name a new pre­mier post­poned.

On Tues­day night, young sup­port­ers of the Shi­ite Amal move­ment threw stones at antigov­ern­ment protesters in the south­ern Shi­ite strong­hold of Na­batieh, a wit­ness said.

Un­known per­pe­tra­tors set fire to a Christ­mas tree in the north­ern city of Tripoli, a correspond­ent said.

On Mon­day night, dozens of sup­port­ers of the coun­try’s two main Shi­ite po­lit­i­cal par­ties set fire to cars and clashed with se­cu­rity forces try­ing to pre­vent them from reach­ing Beirut’s main protest square.

Pres­sure to form a new gov­ern­ment is com­pounded by the near col­lapse of the econ­omy, al­ready weak­ened by years of po­lit­i­cal dead­lock and the im­pact of the eight year old war in neigh­bour­ing Syria.

The World Bank es­ti­mates that Le­banon is in re­ces­sion, and has warned that the num­ber liv­ing in poverty could in­crease from a third to half the pop­u­la­tion.


Policemen near the con­crete bar­ri­cades that were erected overnight to block or con­trol ac­cess to protest sites, in Beirut on Wednesday

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