The protest gains momentum in Lebanon, for the fourth day of protests

From Beirut to the predominantly Sunni city of Tripoli, from Shiite communities in the South to the Druze or Christian cities in the East, the Lebanese marched to express their cowardice.

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Tens of thousands of Lebanese demonstrated Sunday in a festive atmosphere to demand the departure of a political class deemed corrupt. PATRICK BAZ / AFP

Increasingly, hundreds of thousands of Lebanese have demonstrated, Sunday, October 20, in a festive atmosphere to demand, from north to south of the country, the departure of a political class deemed corrupt and accused of having sunk the country in an endless crisis. From Beirut to the predominantly Sunni city of Tripoli in the north, from southern Shiite towns to eastern Druze or Christian cities, the Lebanese marched to express their faint-heartedness on the fourth day of a movement. unprecedented scale.

The move, which paralyzes the country with the closure of banks, public institutions and many stores, started spontaneously Thursday after the announcement of a tax on calls made via WhatsApp. A measure intended to bail out a little the bloodless finances of the country but which had to be canceled immediately under the pressure of the street.

Sunday, a day of rest was conducive to mobilization, on the eve of the expiration of an ultimatum set by Prime Minister Saad Hariri, to obtain the final approval of members of his government coalition to a broad reform plan blocked by political divisions.

"All means all," shouted the crowd to demand a renewal of the entire Lebanese political class

Aerial view of Martyrs Square, central Beirut, October 20, 2019.
Aerial view of Martyrs Square, central Beirut, October 20, 2019. – / AFP

MP Hariri hinted that he could resign on Monday if he failed to get a green light for his reforms, including the one eagerly awaited by the Lebanese for a redesign of the energy sector to end the incessant cuts. electricity that undermines their daily lives. His ally, the Christian party of the Lebanese Forces, announced Saturday the resignation of his four ministers of the government, an initiative welcomed by the jubilant protesters.

But the slogan "All means All" was immediately shouted, to say the requirement of a renewal of the entire political class, including on the side of the President, Michel Aoun, and his Hezbollah allies. Unchanged for decades, this political class is accused of affairism and corruption while the infrastructure of the country are in complete decay.

Everywhere, under a swarm of Lebanese flags, compact crowds have resumed slogans "Revolution, revolution" or "The people want the fall of the regime", those of the Arab Spring that now punctuate their revolt. In downtown Beirut black of world, become the heart of the challenge, the crowd continued to swell Sunday in the early evening. New slogans have appeared on the walls: "Lebanon is the people", "The homeland for the rich, patriotism for the poor".

After violent incidents and acts of vandalism in the center of the capital on the night of Friday to Saturday, a happy atmosphere and good boy took over on Sunday. In Beirut, we smoked shisha and we played cards in the street. Some accompanied the slogans with musical instruments.

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On Sunday night, the main Lebanese parties have accepted a series of reforms proposed by Prime Minister Saad Hariri, according to the Agence-France-Presse (AFP), citing a government official on condition of anonymity. According to the same source of AFP, the main political leaders would propose to no longer impose new taxes and a privatization program. A council of ministers could give Monday morning its formal approval, in the presence of President Aoun.

Happy atmosphere Sunday after the violence of the previous day

Fears of a devaluation for the first time in 22 years of the Lebanese pound, synonymous with a new impoverishment in a dollarized economy, had already angered the population in recent weeks. "We no longer want people to beg for basic rights and services that the state is supposed to provide them with"said 26-year-old Dani Mourtada, who was demonstrating in Beirut.

In Tripoli, a city yet conservative, the crowd massed al-Nour Square danced late Saturday night to the rhythm of a music driven by a DJ and broadcast via speakers.

Significantly, the protest also won fiefs from Hezbollah and the Amal movement in the south of the country. In the town of Tire, the fishermen demonstrated in their boats carrying Lebanese flags while the crowd followed them while marching on the port.

As the day before, this new day of mobilization was reminiscent of the unprecedented popular uprising in 2005 that ended 29 years of Syrian tutelage over Lebanon.

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