BEIRUT – A heavy deployment of Lebanese security forces fanned out in central Beirut on Tuesday, ahead of a parliamentary session protesters have vowed to prevent as they demonstrate against the ruling elite.
Banks reopened for the first time in a week after announcing temporary steps, such as a weekly cap of $1,000 on withdrawals of hard currency and transfers abroad limited to urgent personal expenses, in moves to prevent capital flight.
Lebanon is in serious political and economic crisis a month after nationwide protests began. There is no indication of its leaders agreeing on a new government to replace the outgoing cabinet of Saad al-Hariri, who quit as premier on Oct. 29.
Riot police scuffled with a group of protesters who were trying to use a cable to remove a barbed wire barricade blocking a road near parliament, a Reuters witness said.
The protests have been fueled by perceptions of corruption among the sectarian politicians who have governed Lebanon for decades and are blamed for leading the country into its worst economic crisis since the 1975-90 civil war.
“How are they holding a session and not responding to the people? Those (MPs) that are in the session have nothing to do with us, and it’s not what we asked for,” said a protester who gave her name as Maria.
The parliamentary session was originally scheduled for last week but was postponed by Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri for security considerations.
The agenda includes a proposal for a general amnesty that could lead to the release of several thousand prisoners. However, with several large parties opposed to the law, it was not immediately clear if it would pass.