Published: Tue, January 21, 2020
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

Lebanon urgently needs new government to avoid collapse - Hariri

Lebanon urgently needs new government to avoid collapse - Hariri

Dozens of anti-government protesters gathered in Lebanon's rainy capital on Sunday, as security forces braced for more rioting after a night of violence left hundreds wounded.

Saturday witnessed the worst rioting since the protests began, with almost 400 people injured, including around 120 who were treated in hospital.

Security officials reinforced metal barriers near the Parliament in Beirut as some of the protesters tried to scale the barriers. "And if you have money in the bank, you can't even get a hundred dollars out".

The clashes intensified throughout the night as more protesters streamed into the area and made repeated attempts to breach the barricade, hurling rocks and fireworks as police fired rubber bullets and teargas that blanketed central Beirut in a milky haze.

Police fired tear gas and water cannon to disperse crowds near the parliament in Beirut on Saturday and Sunday.

Thick clouds of white tear gas billowed in central Beirut, as police pushed protesters out of a flashpoint road near parliament after hours of clashes before the downpour largely cleared the streets.

Lebanon's Internal Security Forces said 142 if its members were injured. "Riot police showed a blatant disregard for their human rights obligations, instead launching teargas canisters at protesters' heads, firing rubber bullets in their eyes and attacking people at hospitals and a mosque".

Amid a downpour of rain and the advance of security forces, protesters retreated and the situation calmed in central Beirut.

More street rallies were expected later Sunday as part of the wave of popular protests that has demanded the wholesale ouster of the Lebanese political class, which the activists condemn as inept and corrupt.

Outgoing prime minister Saad Hariri, who stepped down on October 29, urged political parties to "stop wasting time". The protesters blame politicians for widespread corruption and mismanagement.

Panic and anger have gripped the public as the Lebanese pound, pegged to the dollar for more than two decades, plummeted in value.

The announcement followed a presidential palace meeting that included President Michel Aoun, the caretaker interior and defense ministers and the chiefs of security agencies.

The clashes took place amid a rapidly worsening financial crisis and an ongoing impasse over the formation of a new government.

A shortage of the U.S. dollars that grease the Lebanese economy has led banks to impose capital controls on both American and local currency, preventing people from withdrawing more than $300 (£230) a week and focusing popular rage on the banking system.

People have turned their ire on the banks - which have curbed access to savings - with some smashing the facade of the banking association on Saturday night.

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