Beirut protesters storm government buildings

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BEIRUT, 8 August. / TASS /. Participants in an anti-government demonstration in Beirut, which erupted in riots on Saturday, storm government buildings, including the Ministry of the Environment. According to Lebanon 24, the Lebanese TV channel, at this moment the protesters are trying to break into the Association of Lebanese Banks and the Ministry of Energy.

Earlier, protesters occupied the Foreign Ministry building, the Lebanese TV channel Al Jadeed reported on the storming of the Ministry of Economy building by the protesters. In addition, a fire broke out in front of the parliament building. There were reports of a shootout, but parliamentary guards denied the shooting. Earlier, protesters burned a portrait of President of the Republic Michel Aoun and declared the Foreign Ministry building their headquarters.

According to Al Jadeed, the old MFA mansion in the Ashrafiya quarter, badly damaged due to The August 4 bombing in the seaport of Beirut captured retired former military personnel who support the protest movement. Activists hung red banners from the balconies. One of them reads: “Beirut is the capital of the revolution”, on the other: “Beirut is a city without weapons.” Demonstrators in the park in front of an ancient staircase shout anti-government slogans and wave national flags. Police and security guards do not intervene, but try to persuade the activists to leave the seized mansion.

The center of Beirut turned on Saturday into an arena of clashes between riot police and protest activists. The protesters demand the resignation of the entire political elite of the country. Over 170 casualties are reported, many of them in serious condition. An employee of power structures was killed. In these conditions Prime Minister Hasan Diab offered to hold early parliamentary elections, but his statement did not calm the protesters – the situation in Beirut continues to heat up.

The reason for the new protests was the explosion that thundered in the port of Beirut on August 4, killing 158 people and destroying a significant part of the infrastructure of the Lebanese capital. Half of the capital was affected by the blast wave. 300 thousand people lost their homes.

The explosion in the port caused colossal damage to the economy of the republic, which is already in a deep crisis. On March 7, the prime minister announced a financial default, when Lebanon was unable to pay off its debt on Eurobonds in the amount of $ 1.2 billion. The devaluation of the national currency, the Lebanese pound, by more than half, led to a rise in the price of food products by almost 60%. All this provoked a wave of protests in the country. The new coronavirus pandemic has put a heavy additional burden on the economy. The presence of 1.5 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon cost the country another $ 40 billion. In June, the head of government admitted that the authorities’ attempts to bring the country out of the crisis had not yet met with success. In these conditions, Beirut applied to the IMF for a loan of $ 10 billion, but in early July negotiations were suspended until the implementation of reforms in Lebanon.

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