The Daily Star
In what started off as relatively calm protests Friday, demonstrators gathered earlier Friday evening ahead of a widely anticipated weekend of anti-government public demonstrations. Protesters teamed up and marched from the Khashoggi Mosque in Qasqas to Downtown Beirut before heading to Corniche al-Mazraa Friday.
Their chants called for politicians that have been in power for years to step aside and allow for a new government of experts and independents. The protesters also criticized the Central Bank and its Gov. Riad Salameh, for implementing unofficial capital controls on depositors and residents trying to access their money in banks.
Over the weekend, it’s anticipated that protesters will block major roads to voice their rejection of reported consensus around a new prime minister and government made up of similar figures of the previous government.
Messages were sent across WhatsApp messenger and Facebook groups were made organizing marches. One march is scheduled to take place in Tripoli’s Al-Nour Square Saturday before heading to each MP’s residence in the north Lebanon town.
Early Friday, protesters gathered outside state institutions in north and south Lebanon on the 51st day of the nationwide uprising.
A main road that connects Minyeh to Tripoli was obstructed, according to the state-run National News Agency, causing severe traffic delays. The Lebanese Army held negotiations with protesters to open the road. The Traffic Management Center said the road was reopened shortly after noon.
Protesters in Tripoli gathered outside state instructions and schools, trying to stop employees and students from accessing offices and classes.
People in Halba, Akkar protested outside the North Lebanon Water Establishment offices, the land registry, the state telecom company Ogero, the Labor Ministry offices and other institutions, calling for “an independent government that will fight corruption and return looted public funds.”
Zahle’s protesters gathered outside the Zahle Serail, closing the building’s entrance with a long Lebanese flag. They also called for the “formation of a technocratic government to save the [country’s] economic situation.”
In Sidon, demonstrators wearing red jumpsuits and Dali masks – a reference to the Spanish TV series “La Casa de Papel” – placed metal chains and locks on the South Lebanon Water Establishment.
The group, who refer to themselves as the Revolutionary Wing of Sidon’s Uprising, said the move came after the water provider cut off supplies for some households that could not afford to pay their bills, the NNA said.
Scores of demonstrators gathered outside the Central Bank’s offices in the city of Tyre, protesting the bank’s monetary policy.
Further south, in Nabatieh, protesters gathered outside the car registration center for the second day, calling the corrupt officials to be held to account.
Nationwide protests that started on Oct. 17 have seen thousands of Lebanese people take to the streets against rampant corruption and the ruling elite.
The Lebanese have demanded an overhaul of the decades-old sectarian political system, the formation of a technocratic government and early parliamentary elections.