Protests in Lebanon ahead of Cabinet vote of confidence

BEIRUT (AP) – Clashes broke out yesterday between Lebanese protesters and security forces near the Parliament building in central Beirut, where the new Cabinet was scheduled to submit its policy statement ahead of a vote of confidence.

The meeting is being held amid a crippling economic and financial crisis, Lebanon’s worst in decades. Police threw a tight security dragnet around the area, and Special Forces and riot policemen quickly opened roads that were closed by protesters trying to prevent Cabinet Ministers and legislators from reaching Parliament.

“No confidence,” chanted some of the protesters. The meeting began noon yesterday and ends today.

Lebanon has been gripped by anti-government protests since October 2019. Demonstrators are calling for sweeping reforms and an end to a political class they deem as corrupt and incompetent, blaming it for the rapidly worsening financial crisis.

The protests forced the resignation of the former Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

New Prime Minister Hassan Diab read a new government’s policy statement, which included a rescue plan to try get Lebanon out of its economic and financial crisis, the worst since the end of the country’s 1975-90 civil war.

A group of protesters surrounded the car of Cabinet Minister Demianos Kattar as he was on his way to the nearby government headquarters, pelting it with eggs pounding it with their fists before an army and police force pushed them away.

Security forces fired tear gas in another street leading to Parliament, where protesters were able to remove part of a giant concrete wall.

An anti-government protester argues with Lebanese army special forces during a protest against a Parliament session to vote of confidence for the new government, in downtown Beirut, Lebanon. PHOTO: AP