Lebanon’s police clear protest camps in Beirut as coronavirus curfew takes effect

Protestors told local media that police came at 6:30 p.m. without any warning and told them to leave immediately. (File/AFP)
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Updated 28 March 2020

Lebanon’s police clear protest camps in Beirut as coronavirus curfew takes effect

  • Coronavirus has so far killed eight people and infected 391
  • The protest camps have been a permanent fixture in Downtown Beirut since anti-government protests

Lebanese riot police cleared dozens of protesters camps in Downtown Beirut on Friday evening as the country’s curfew measures came into effect, local media reported.

Protestors told local media, The Daily Star, that police came at 6:30 p.m. without any warning and told them to leave immediately.

“When people refused, they attacked and destroyed every tent,” one protester told the daily.

The protest camps have been a permanent fixture in Downtown Beirut since nationwide anti-government protests erupted on Oct. 17 last year.

Information Minister Manal Abdel-Samad said on Thursday that the coronavirus lockdown measures would be extended by an additional two weeks and announced the introduction of a curfew between 7 p.m. and 5 a.m. local time.

Coronavirus lockdown measures were first introduced on March 15 and were due to end by March 29 but have now been extended until April 12 as the country continues to battle against the virus. The virus has so far killed eight people and infected 391.


‘Political paralysis’: Lebanese patriarch points at Shiite leaders for cabinet delay

Updated 1 min 24 sec ago

‘Political paralysis’: Lebanese patriarch points at Shiite leaders for cabinet delay

  • PM-designate Mustapha Adib, a Sunni Muslim, wants to appoint specialists and shake up the leadership of ministries
  • Sunday’s sermon adds to tensions in a nation facing its worst crisis since a civil war ended in 1990

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s top Christian cleric took a swipe at leaders of the Shiite Muslim community on Sunday for making demands he said were blocking the formation of a new government and causing political paralysis in a nation in deep crisis.
Patriarch Bechara Boutros Al-Rai, leader of the Maronite church, did not mention Shiites directly but asked how one sect can demand “a certain ministry.” Shiite politicians have said they must name the finance minister.
Sunday’s sermon adds to tensions in a nation facing its worst crisis since a civil war ended in 1990 and where power is traditionally shared out between Muslims and Christians.
France has been pushing Lebanon to form a new cabinet fast. But a deadline of Sept. 15 that politicians told Paris they would meet has been missed amid a row over appointments, notably the finance minister, a post Shiites controlled for years.
Shiite politicians say they must choose some posts because rivals are trying to use “foreign leverage” to push them aside.
“In what capacity does a sect demand a certain ministry as if it is its own, and obstruct the formation of the government, until it achieves its goals, and so causes political paralysis?” the patriarch of Lebanon’s biggest Christian community said.
He said the Taif agreement, a pact that ended the 1975-1990 civil war, did not hand specific ministries to specific sects.
Prime Minister-designate Mustapha Adib, a Sunni Muslim, wants to appoint specialists and shake up the leadership of ministries.
The main Shiite groups — the Amal Movement and the heavily armed, Iranian-backed Hezbollah — want to select the figures to fill several posts, including the finance minister, a vital position as Lebanon navigates through its economic crisis.
A French roadmap for Lebanon includes the swift resumption of talks with the International Monetary Fund, a first step to helping deal with a mountain of debt and fix Lebanon’s broken banking sector. But it first needs a government.