In Lebanon, the challenge resumes against the background of deconfinement and collapse of the pound

Lebanese soldiers disperse protesters in the northern city of Tripoli on Tuesday April 28.
Lebanese soldiers disperse protesters in the northern city of Tripoli on Tuesday April 28. IBRAHIM CHALHOUB / AFP

Blocked roads, ransacked banks, confrontations with the army: in Lebanon, the beginnings of deconfinement coincided with the resumption and the hardening of the anti-system protest movement that shook the country in the fall. On Monday April 27 and Tuesday April 28, the first days of a six-week plan to return to normal, protests broke out across the country in anger over the collapsing economy. The clashes with the army caused the death of a protester and left dozens injured, both among the soldiers and among the demonstrators.

The banking sector in accusation

It was in Tripoli, the northern Sunni metropolis, one of the poorest cities in the country, that the rallies were the most massive and violent. On Tuesday evening, for the second day in a row, hundreds of young people burned banks and attacked the army with paving stones and Molotov cocktails. Protesters accuse the banking sector, in league with the political class which often owns shares of these establishments, of having contributed to the bankruptcy of the state. In March, Lebanon declared itself in default on its sovereign debt.

Read also Lebanon announces first default in its history

Clashes with the military, which responded with tear gas and rubber bullets, began Tuesday after the funeral of 26-year-old mechanic Fawaz Al-Samman. The young man had been killed the day before by an army shot, which expressed its regrets and announced the opening of an investigation. These are the most violent days since October 17, 2019 and the start of the protest movement directed against the faith-based parties that have put the country in order.

After obtaining the fall of the government of national unity of Saad Hariri, the revolt had died down. Part of the protesters seemed to want to give a chance to the new executive, half technocratic, half political, formed in February, headed by academic Hassan Diab. The curfew imposed the following month, in response to the coronavirus epidemic that killed 24 people and infected 717 people in the country, had completed paralyzing the protest.

"People are hungry"

"This is the second wave of the revolution, wants to believe Michel Douaihy, a professor of political science at the American University of Beirut, involved in the movement. The first was very beautiful, very idealistic. The second will be different. With 50% of the population falling below the poverty line since the fall, it is now a matter of survival. "

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