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Sat, 25 Jan 2020 12:23 GMT

Lebanon Protests Continue amid Calls for General Strike


Ghada Ghaleb

Wed, 20 Nov 2019 22:25 GMT

Demonstrations, sit-ins and banditry continued in Lebanon on Wednesday November 20th, disrupting schools and universities amid calls for a general strike after clashes on Tuesday night between riot police and demonstrators.

The clashes began after parliament postponed a legislative session under pressure from the protesters, a move widely seen as a new achievement for the month-long social movement.

The Lebanese Civil Defense used force against protesters as the atmosphere in Riad al-Solh in Beirut suddenly soured, wounding six people and arresting more than 11 people, according to Reuters.

However, the Lebanese authorities announced Wednesday the release of 12 of the young men arrested yesterday. Protesters say the tension began after youths threw bottles at security forces and fled. Riot police subsequently moved in and used force against other peaceful demonstrators, causing tensions and smashing a number of tents, 7DNews correspondent Ruba Suleiman reported.

A series of videos showed some MPs trying to reach parliament in various ways with their vehicles, including apparent attempts to charge through demonstrators and shooting into the air to disperse them from the roads, according to Sky News.

The Speaker of the Lebanese Parliament, Nabih Berri, had announced the postponement of the Parliament session from November 12th to November 19th, for security reasons, according to CNN. The session has been postponed indefinitely.

The government dispute continues

The Lebanese press published on Wednesday morning reports that the main pillars of power, especially President Michel Aoun, would not back down from the position that the new government should be a mixture of technocrats and politicians.

Aoun has announced his desire to form a new government with representatives of the various political components in the country, including the popular movement.

But Hariri believes that this offer does not meet the demands of the protesters. Local newspapers suggested that the coming days would be crucial in making the final decision regarding negotiations with Hariri to head the next government, or that another political figure would be assigned to form a government.

Lebanon's former prime minister, Fouad Siniora, said in an interview with Sky News Arabia on Tuesday that the prime minister's priority should be to consider the demands of the protesters. Siniora said that what the constitution stipulates that Aoun call on the parliament to conduct consultations with binding results.

Lebanese writer Nabil Haitham said that the dispute between the Saad Hariri Front and the Future Movement, and that between Lebanese President Michel Aoun and his allies, does not suggest the possibility of achieving solutions soon.

He asserted that this situation reflects the difficulty of forming a new government in Lebanon, and also the possibility of the return of Saad Hariri to the premiership.

The belief that the government crisis is expanding is reinforced by the failure of government negotiations after disputes between Hariri and Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil following the nomination of the candidate to form the government, Mohamed Safadi.

Shirin Attiyah, a professor of international relations at the American University in Cairo, believes that it is no longer possible to hide the pressure exerted by Hariri on the parliamentary majority team. Attiyah stressed that this pressure aims to impose a new situation based on either bowing to a government of "technocrats" or the total disruption of all official institutions in Lebanon.

Middle East