Anti-govt. protesters outnumber Aoun loyalists in Lebanon


Hours after a mass rally to support the embattled president, thousands of Lebanese protested Sunday, November 03, to keep up a nationwide street movement that has brought down the government.

Unprecedented cross-sectarian demonstrations have gripped Lebanon since October 17, demanding a complete overhaul of a political system deemed inefficient and corrupt.

On Sunday evening, thousands of protesters streamed into the main square carrying Lebanese flags and a flurry of inventive slogans on cardboard, an AFP correspondent said.

“Revolution,” they cried to the rhythm of electronic beats in Martyrs’ Square.

“All of them means all of them,” they chanted, calling for political leaders from all sectarian stripes to step down.

Draped in white sheets, three demonstrators staged a mock execution of the grievances that pushed them down into the street.

Nooses around their limp necks, they bore signs referring to corruption, sectarianism, and the 1975-1990 civil war.

Demonstrators’ roadblocks were lifted and banks re-opened after the government stepped down on Tuesday.

Protesters have however vowed to keep up the street movement until all their demands are met, including a new government that includes independent technocrats.

Protesters also called for an end to President Michel Aoun’s tenure, as well as drastic change to a political system dominated by the same figures and families since the end of the civil war.

Early afternoon, the president addressed Lebanese in a televised speech as thousands of his supporters thronged the road outside his presidential palace.

“I call on you all to unite,” the 84-year-old Maronite Christian president said from his palace in the town of Baabda outside Beirut.

He urged Lebanese to rally behind a roadmap to tackle corruption, redress the economy, and put together a civil government.

“It won’t be easy, and we want your efforts,” he said.

A proposed tax on calls via free phone applications such as WhatsApp triggered the protests last month.

But they soon morphed into a huge nationwide movement, denouncing a raft of woes including a lack of basic services, a failing economy, and corruption. (Source: Bangkok Post/AFP)