By JOE GAMP
Angry hoards flooded the streets of Beirut wearing yellow vests on Sunday, shouting rallying cries of “Revolution! Revolution!” and “Down with the Government”. Angry civilians took to the streets to protest the country’s dire political and economic situation following the civil unrest that has dominated France for the last two months. The Beirut elections are the focus for the 10-day run of protests, following various civil groups marching in the cities of Tripoli and Nabatieh.
The unrest in Lebanon follows political turmoil as a coalition government is yet to be formed following national elections in May – the first democratic vote to be held in nine years in the country after the Government remained benign.
The unplanned elections saw protestors waving makeshift flags sporting slogans such as “confiscate the stolen money” and “fight against corruption”, while women also wore white masks emblazoned with “democracy, freedom, transparency”.
According to Lebanese news agency Al-Watania, police and army patrols used force to contain the unrest on the Hamra shopping street ion the nation’s capital, after protestors damaged private property, leaving shop windows broken.
That same afternoon, the Lebanese army released a statement declaring that while they respected “the right of civil protest, freedom of expression, and the right to make demands, demonstrators must not vandalise private and public property”.
One protestor said: “We demand respect for our rights. Where is the medicine? People are dying at the doors of hospitals.
“The government has been inactive for years; what do we need such a government for? Let them resign!
“Seven months ago, we elected a parliament that hasn’t yet been able to form a coalition government.
“This means the parliament simply doesn’t perform its functions, it has failed.”
Another protestor said: “Many people suffer from hunger; there is dissatisfaction in society.
“We are sharing the calls to go out to protest through social media. “My friends and I participated in a rally last week, today we have also come and will come any other day to make the people’s voice heard.”
On May 24, President Michel Aoun desgnated Sunni politician Saad Hariri to form a Government.
But the various parties are still yet to form a coalition due to disagreements over what foreign policy stance Lebanon should adopt.
The economic crisis in the country has deepened since the Government hit deadlock, which has led to widespread poverty and falling living standards.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimated Lebanon’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth to be at one percent this year.
The country needs to achieve at least six percent annually to provide jobs to the roughly 30,000 Lebanese citizens looking for work each year.
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