Lebanon experienced, this Saturday, December 14, the worst day of violence between demonstrators and the police, since the beginning of the popular protest movement on October 17, directed against the leaders and the class policy. A provisional assessment, provided by the civil defense and the Red Cross, indicates a hundred people treated or hospitalized. Security forces say 20 officers were injured.
With our correspondent in Beirut, Paul Khalifeh
This morning, December 15, the tension remains palpable in the center of Beirut, which looks like a battlefield. The streets are strewn with stones, hundreds of casings of tear gas canisters, torn road signs. Some dumpsters set on fire by the demonstrators are still smoking.
Rain of tear gas canisters
Clashes between protesters denouncing political leaders, including Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berry and outgoing Prime Minister Saad Hariri, were extremely violent on Saturday, December 14. Riot police charged protesters in the early evening trying to break into a blocked avenue leading to Parliament. Under a shower of tear gas and batons, the demonstrators were pushed back one kilometer, before being authorized by the Lebanese army to return to the city center to protest peacefully.
In the late evening, incidents broke out again . Same scenes: throwing stones, tear gas, water cannon ... The clashes lasted until dawn. The demonstrators , who came from different Lebanese regions, were dispersed, some were arrested. But they regrouped after the withdrawal of the police. Earlier in the afternoon, other young people, hostile to the protest, coming from a central district of Beirut considered as a bastion of Hezbollah and Nabih Berry, tried to invest tents of demonstrators around the downtown. They were also rejected by the police.
These clashes occur on the eve of parliamentary consultations which aim to appoint a new Prime Minister . This post has been vacant since the resignation of Saad Hariri on October 29. However, Saad Hariri is, at this stage, the only candidate to succeed himself.
An "independent" personality
But the demonstrators do not want his return. They demand the appointment of an "independent" personality, who is not part of the traditional political class, whom they accuse of corruption. And if Hariri is chosen, nothing says that he will succeed in quickly forming a government. The main Christian party, the Free Patriotic Current, founded by the President of the Republic, Michel Aoun, has already announced that it will not participate in any government led by Hariri.
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