BEIRUT, Lebanese activists demanding administrative reforms and uprooting corruption have stepped up their demonstrations protesting delay and procrastination of forming a new government.
The protestors, according to official and media reports, have cut off the “Ring Bridge,” a key causeway that links up the capital western and eastern halves. In the nearby commercial-residential district of Dora, they blockaded a key road leading to northern areas.
Farther northwards, the protestors blockaded the highway in the resort of Jounieh and the ancient town of Byblos. Both coastal towns are a few miles apart.
South of Beirut, the demonstrators blockaded the main highway prompting government security personnel to scramble to remove barricades and burning tires.
Lebanese Internal Security Forces’ traffic department said protestors placed hurdles on Nahr Al Mot-Al Metn highway, however Lebanese Army troops intervened, clashed with them and swept away the obstacles.
In northernmost region of Akkara, key roads were also blocked, Likewise the roads leading to the northern port city of Tripoli. Moreover, some roads linking up Beirut with the eastern Bekaa Valley, a plain where bulk of the country’s vegetables are grown, were also barricaded by the activists.
A new government was supposed to be formed and proclaimed during the past two days, however “some snags” were reported regarding distribution of portfolios.
Major political forces, namely the Future movement of the resigned premier Saad Al-Hariri, the Lebanese Forces of Samir Geagea, the Phalange Party of MP Sami Al-Gemayel and the Socialist Progressive Party of Walid Jumblatt have declared desire to abstain from partaking in the new government.
The protests have been ongoing for months in Lebanon. The disturbances broke out when the government decided to impose taxes on some internet services, however many observes believe the unrest flared up due to a pile of issues, namely joblessness, an ailing economy, failure to collect and safely treat waste, lack of round the clock electricity, water shortage and widely spread corruption at various levels including the administration as well as misappropriation of public funds.
In response to the activists’ demands, basically forming a government of technocrats, Al-Hariri had resigned and the academic Hassan Diab was named to form a new one. Diab has reportedly insisted on forming a cabinet of non-politicians, but the local media report that politicians are intervening to coerce him to include members of political parties in the line-up.
Meanwhile, rate of US dollar fell to 2,100 pounds on the alternative market — as compared to 2,500 pounds last week. Officially, the rate is at approximately 1,500 pounds.
Two days ago, scores of people, including protestors and security personnel, were wounded in fierce clashes on the once fashionable Hamra Street and outside headquarters of the central bank.
The protestors, using metallic objects and big stones, damaged a number of banks’ facades and ATM machines, expressing anger with the political, economic and financial policies.
Banks have imposed ceiling on money withdrawals, amid reports that influential figures have transferred secretly huge funds to banks abroad namely in Switzerland.
Source: Kuwait News Agency