Lebanese block roads as protests enter fourth month

BEIRUT (AFP) – Protesters blocked several main roads across Lebanon on Friday as unprecedented demonstrations against a political elite accused of corruption and incompetence entered their fourth month.

The protest movement rocking Lebanon since last October has resurged this week, over delays in forming a new Cabinet to address the country’s growing economic crisis. No progress seemed to have been made on a final lineup, which protesters demand be made up solely of independent experts and exclude traditional political parties.

In central Beirut, dozens of protesters on Friday stood between parked cars blocking a key thoroughfare linking the city’s east and west.

“We blocked the road with cars because it’s something they can’t move,” Marwan Karam said. The protester condemned what he regarded as efforts to form yet another government in which power is divided among the traditional parties.

“We don’t want a government of masked political figures,” the 30-year-old told AFP. “Any such government will fall. We won’t give it any chance in the street.”

Forming a new Cabinet is often a drawn-out process in Lebanon, where a complex system seeks to maintain balance between the various political parties and a multitude of religious confessions.

Nearby, Carlos Yammine, 32, said he did not want yet another “cake-sharing government”. “What we have asked for from the start of the movement is a reduced, transitional, emergency government of independents,” he said, leaning against his car.

Demonstrators also blocked roads in second city Tripoli on Friday morning, although they were cleared later in the day, local media reported. Protests also took place in the southern port city of Tyre later in the day. On Friday evening, hundreds of protesters gathered near the Parliament and outside the central bank, the target of renewed anger amid the worst economic crisis that Lebanon has experienced since its 1975-1990 civil war.

Protests this week saw angry demonstrators attack banks following the imposition of sharp curbs on cash withdrawals to stem a liquidity crisis.

Lebanese demonstrators block the main bridge linking the western and eastern sides of the capital Beirut, to protest against a political elite accused of corruption and incompetence. PHOTO: AFP