Hundreds gathered in Lebanon yesterday for a third day of protests against tax increases and alleged official corruption after the security forces made dozens of arrests.
Crowds began gathering in front of the seat of government in the capital Beirut around lunchtime, with many waving billowing Lebanese flags.
The protesters are demanding a sweeping overhaul of Lebanon’s political system, citing grievances ranging from austerity measures to poor infrastructure.
They have crippled the capital Beirut and threatened to topple the country’s fragile coalition government.
In Beirut, troops reopened blocked highways after security forces used tear gas and water cannons to disperse a huge crowd of protesters who had gathered in the heart of Beirut on Friday evening. 70 people were arrested.
Prime Minister Saad Hariri has given his deeply divided coalition until Monday evening to give their backing to a reform package aimed at shoring up the government’s finances and securing the disbursement of desperately needed economic assistance from donors.
Hariri’s political rival, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, gave his first response yesterday, telling protesters their “message was heard loudly” and calling for political action.
But he warned against demanding resignation of the government, saying it could take a long time to form a new one.