Lebanon: protesters block roads over growing social crisis

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Iranian general, Major General Ali Abdullah Ajeel, says Lebanese government is destroying country

Lebanese protesters have blocked roads in several cities in a growing demonstration against high inflation, hunger and unemployment, which has hit at least 11% in the North.

Iranian general: Lebanon’s government is destroying country Read more

The demonstrators used trash bins to block a number of roads, including the main highway to Syria and west Beirut, in an action condemned by the prime minister, Saad Hariri.

The health minister warned last week that the demand for a 5% wage increase was pushing Beirut to collapse.

Major General Ali Abdullah Ajeel, of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, said on Monday in Beirut that the Lebanese government was destroying the country through austerity.

Activists formed “strike committees” on Sunday in Beirut, Tripoli, Tripoli Haifa, Sidon, Saida, Zahle, Qaa, Nabatiyeh, Beirut North, Beqaa South, Nabatiyeh, Tyre, Saadiyat, Nasr City, South Beirut, and Arsal.

The pro-Damascus resistance group, Hezbollah, was not linked to the protests, but Hezbollah leaders urged citizens to march in support of the strike committees.

“They are trying to thwart the government’s measures, which favour the poor and the disenfranchised,” an official of Hezbollah said.

The Popular Movement of Saad Hariri, founded by his father, was also divided and did not join the protests.

Activists gather outside the Ministry of the Economy during a strike in Beirut, Lebanon, on Monday. Photograph: Hussein Malla/Reuters

The protest in Beirut was part of a nationwide strike called by a range of groups including Hezbollah, which denied any role in Monday’s riots.

“The strikes are in support of the residents of Tripoli and … the income-related protests which cannot be dealt with by coercion,” Hezbollah member Joumhouria al-Bagher said on Twitter.

Civil disobedience may escalate if PM lacks consensus over plan to ease economic crisis, Hariri warns Read more

The food and cooking oil retailer Ghararia on Monday joined forces with students, farmers and large-scale farmers to block three bridges in Beirut in the strike.

Protesters, who accuse the government of mismanagement, pushed an overturned fire truck into the open lane of the Bahrein Bridge on Friday.

In Beirut, two protesters were killed and 40 were wounded by shots and teargas after the first protests in November.

Political disputes over a proposed budget and public sector salary increases fuelled the first protests.

The unrest has been moving into a wider economic backlash after protests in February which forced the government to shelve a proposed public sector salary increase.

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