Tens of thousands of Lebanese took to the streets in Beirut on Friday for the second day in a row to protest against the government's new tax plans. This led to confrontations with the riot police.
In some places demonstrators destroyed shops and set fire to car tires. Protesters also tried to set fire to a building. The police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowd.
The massive protests in Lebanon started on Thursday, after the government had announced plans to levy taxes on internet calling services (VoIP), which include applications such as WhatsApp, Facebook and Apple's FaceTime.
A few hours after the protests broke out, the government withdrew the tax plans, but the protests continued. "We are not just here because of WhatsApp, we are here for everything: fuel, food, bread, everything", a demonstrator summarized in conversation with the BBC .
Protesters accuse politicians of corruption
The protesters are angry because they fear that they will no longer be able to provide for their livelihood if the cabinet plans for higher taxes continue. They called for a "revolution" and the "fall of the regime." The protesters also accused Lebanese politicians of corruption.
Also in Tripoli, the second city of Lebanon, opponents of the government have taken to the streets. According to local media, some demonstrators were injured there when security forces opened fire on a group of people. In addition, riots broke out in at least two prisons due to demonstrations in the country.
Due to the unrest, public buildings such as banks, shops and schools remained closed on Friday.
Premier sets three-day deadline
On Friday, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri said in a speech that he had given his political rivals three days to resolve the economic crisis in his country.
"I set a very short deadline. Either our coalition partners come with a clear answer or I have to come up with something else," he said. In the meantime, protesters on Martyrs Square in Beirut continued to call for the resignation of Hariri and the rest of the political elite.
The Lebanese president Michel Aoun also had to spare. In the eyes of the demonstrators, he is "a thief" because he is also guilty of corruption. In Lebanon, prison sentences are for insulting the president.
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