In what was described as some of the worst demonstrations in Beirut since the popular protests had begun on October 17, dozens of people were injured in clashes with police which fired rubber bullets and used tear gas and water cannons to push back anti-government protesters. According to several media outlets, Sunday morning’s violence brought central Beirut area to a standstill for many hours, as hundreds of protesters set fires inside garbage cans on the Lebanese capital’s main streets.
The violence erupted only two days ahead of the scheduled talks between Lebanon’s president Michel Aoun and the parliamentary factions to decide on a new prime minister. The protest movement forced prime minister Saad Hariri to resign on October 29. The protesters are blaming the country’s miserable economic situation on the entire political class which they say has been mired in mismanagement and corruption for 30 years.
Late Saturday afternoon, Hezbollah counter-protesters arrived from the Shiite-dominated part of the city, and clashed with the anti-government protesters who are camped in Beirut’s Martyrs’ Square. Riot police intervened, firing teargas to disperse both groups.