Protesters clashed with security forces in Beirut’s Riad al-Solh Square Tuesday after successfully preventing scheduled parliamentary sessions from taking place.
At least one woman was lightly injured in the incident, which involved riot police and protesters at the entrance to Bank Street, and was taken from the scene by a Red Cross Ambulance.
Security forces had deployed in large numbers Tuesday morning in anticipation of protesters’ attempts to stop MPs reaching Parliament on the 34th day of Lebanon’s mass uprising.
“This is a victory for us. We prevailed. We not only prevented [the MPs] from entering, but we also prevented the session from happening entirely,” said Mohammed Wissam Arnaout, 21, a demonstrator in Riad al-Solh Square.
Hundreds of protesters remained in Downtown Beirut to celebrate after the announcement that the parliamentary sessions had been indefinitely postponed. They waved flags and chanted, “Revolution,” and “The people demand the fall of the government.”
“We showed that we aren’t going anywhere and that we have the power,” Aranaout told Beirut Blog Post.
Crowds gathered early morning to block roads surrounding and leading to the parliament building, in an attempt to deny MPs access to the scheduled parliamentary session.
Scuffles erupted between demonstrators and security forces outside Downtown Beirut’s Annahar building and Riad al-Solh Square, both main veins leading to Nejmeh Square. Protesters were seen removing barbed wire in an attempt to edge closer to Parliament as riot police advanced, less than three hours before the session was scheduled to start.
Protesters also attacked a convoy of three cars in Bab Idris to prevent them from passing through to Parliament. The cars, believed to be carrying at least one MP, were unable to enter and forced to return as protesters smashed their windows with metal poles and barricades after accusing the drivers of trying to run them over.
In Riad al-Solh, protesters lit barrels of garbage on fire. “We will not permit any MP to enter today,” said one protester.
A parliamentary session to elect committee members and a legislative session were initially set for last Tuesday, but Speaker Nabih Berri postponed them for a week for security reasons. The rescheduled sessions were expected to start at 11 a.m Tuesday.
The legislative session included draft laws related to fighting corruption, pensions and a general amnesty. Protesters have widely criticized the proposals.
Meanwhile, banks reopened Tuesday for the first time in 10 days after announcing temporary measures including a weekly cap of $1,000 on withdrawals of hard currency and transfers abroad limited to urgent personal expenses.
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