02/11/2020, 09.38
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Beirut, clashes between army and demonstrators on day of confidence in Diab government

Security forces used water and tear gas cannons on crowd. Protesters want to prevent entry into Parliament, where the vote is scheduled today. The crowd sang slogans and songs, including "no confidence". The army is threatening to crack down on "violations of public and private property".


Beirut (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Lebanese security forces used water cannons to disperse the crowd of demonstrators gathered in the capital this morning, who responded by throwing stones. The aim of the protest is to prevent the Prime Minister in charge Hassan Diab and the members of the executive from reaching Parliament, where the vote of confidence is scheduled today.

Local sources tell of repeated launches of tear gas, of roads blocked by security and of a cordon of agents patrolling the streets leading to Parliament, in an area that has already been under close surveillance for some time with barricades distributed everywhere. The demonstrators threw stones and rocks  in an attempt to unhinge the barricades erected by the military.

In recent days, the protesters rejected the new government team proposed by Prime Minister Diab and doubled down on protests, which affect the center of Beirut and several areas of the country. The crowd chanted slogans and songs including "no confidence". People have also raised the accusations of "incompetence and corruption" against a political class that would have lost credibility in the eyes of citizens.

The protesters therefore seem willing to promote a hard line, considering the measures adopted so far as insufficient; since the end of October, with the resignation of the then Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Lebanon is without a government that will have to respond to numerous challenges, from the economic crisis to the migrant emergency. On the other hand, the leaders of the Maronite Church express satisfaction with the government program presented in recent days and invite citizens to judge the new government structure by the choices it will make, giving them a chance.

In spite of the appeals, the hard core of the protest does not intend to withdraw and announces new battles. This morning a crowd marched through the Martyrs Square, then in the Ring Bridge area and in the suburb of Qantari, trying to remove the concrete blocks that blocked the passage. The security departments responded with water cannons and tear gas, asking appealing for "peaceful" demonstrations and calling on protesters to avoid clashes.

This morning the Lebanese army released a note stating that "riots and violations of public and private property distort the [legitimate] requests and do not fall into the category of freedom of expression". A warning that, at the moment, seems to fall on deaf ears.

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