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Police, protesters clash outside parliament in Beirut

Police, protesters clash outside parliament in Beirut

BEIRUT: Police in Beirut clashed with anti-corruption demonstrators trying to break through barbed wire protecting Lebanon’s parliament on Wednesday, making several arrests.

Inside parliament, representatives of the country’s political factions held a second round of talks aimed at resolving their differences after failing to do so a week ago.

“You Stink”, a citizen’s group that emerged in protest at rubbish festering in the streets of the capital, had called for Wednesday’s new round of dialogue.

“Down with the regime of thugs,” shouted angry demonstrators, as some tried to break through the barrier.

Dozens of baton-wielding riot police clashed with the mostly young protesters, making at least 25 arrests, according to organisers. “Shame on you!” some shouted in response, while others mocked the “dialogue of political trash”.




One activist, Wadih el-Asmar, said “they take Lebanese for fools. We have absolutely no confidence in them”. Fresh scuffles broke out in the afternoon outside the environment ministry, near where protesters have frequently rallied to demand an end to the garbage crisis.

The Red Cross said 20 people were injured, with seven hospitalised.The current political crisis began in July when the Naameh landfill closed, causing rubbish to pile up on Beirut’s roadsides, in parking lots and in riverbeds.

“You Stink” emerged as a movement to demand a solution to the environmental problem, but rapidly broadened its target to include the entire political class, which it accuses of being corrupt and inept.

Last week, the government approved a plan to tackle the rubbish crisis, but campaigners said it was too vague and did not meet their demands.

Published in Dawn, September 17th, 2015

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