Lebanese Parliament unable to meet face of popular anger

Street mobilization and the boycott of several political parties prevented a controversial session of Parliament.

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Barbed wire barrels prevent access to Parliament in Beirut, November 19, 2019. BILAL HUSSEIN / AP

"It seems that the sitting of Parliament is postponed", launches, incredulously, Ghada, who arrived early on Tuesday, November 19, to participate with several other hundreds of demonstrators in blocking the roads leading to the Chamber of Deputies, in the center of Beirut. The news is confirmed: Parliament is unable to meet due to lack of a quorum.

In the street, protesters exult, women and young people continue their cacophonous concert by beating the pace with pans. The protest movement – started on October 17 against the government deemed corrupt – is pleased to have succeeded, once again, to impose its tempo. Contributing to the blockage, various political and elected parties had also decided to boycott the meeting.

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"This report sine die is a satisfaction, but we must remain vigilant: we do not know when the next session will take place"Mariane Baayini, a student who participated in the "human shield" to prevent the arrival of deputies in the perimeter of Parliament, locked by security forces and barbed wire.

It was notably the examination of a controversial draft law of general amnesty, among the items on the agenda, that triggered the popular mobilization. "We do not want to allow politicians to keep stealing us"Mona asserts, a psychologist. According to lawyers, the text, which has not been abandoned, could cover environmental crimes or tax evasion cases.

"This law aims to divide the street"

But other protesters see especially a pledge that would like to give the leaders in some popular bases: Islamist detainees and individuals involved in drug cases could benefit. In Tripoli, near Al-Nour Square, the local epicenter of the uprising, families of Islamist prisoners – including those incarcerated without trial for more than a decade – camped in tents demanding an amnesty. "This law aims to divide the streetsays Naji, a mechanic, because there are people for and others against. "

The amnesty projects also bring the Lebanese to grim memories: in 1991, it was by such a measure that the militia leaders excused themselves from the crimes committed during the war (1975-1990) and imposed themselves within the power many of them have not left.

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