Lebanon reaches deal on trash crisis amid protests
The long-term plan gives municipalities a main role in treating waste and assigns two landfills near the border with Syria
Lebanon's government has agreed on a plan to resolve a waste disposal crisis late on Wednesday, ending a dispute that has caused piles of rubbish to fester on Beirut's streets and triggered a wave of popular protests.
The long-term plan, agreed on during an emergency cabinet meeting gives municipalities a main role in treating local waste with expert help and supervision, and also assigns two landfills in Akkar and in Masnaa area near the border with Syria.
"We see that this plan meets the conditions… Tonight the cabinet agreed on an environmental solution path that is sustainable and safe," Agriculture Minister Akram Shehayeb, who led the team to draft the plan, told reporters after the cabinet meeting.
It was not immediately clear if the plan requires parliamentary approval or if the Lebanese who took to the streets to protest would accept it.
The waste crisis triggered wide public protests with some angry Lebanese calling for resignation of the government.
The cabinet meeting, which lasted for a few hours, came shortly after a "national dialogue" meeting which ended with no apparent decision on a way out of the deadlock.
A spokesman said that another session would be held in a week's time.
Central Beirut locked down
On Wednesday, Lebanese security services locked down central Beirut as protesters mobilized against government failures, including a rubbish disposal crisis that has allowed garbage to pile up in Beirut.
The protesters were kept away from government buildings by soldiers and barbed wire fences as politicians held meetings behind the barricades.
The demonstrators, who in recent weeks have mobilized in their thousands independently of the main sectarian parties, waved Lebanese flags and held banners calling for change and denouncing what they view as a corrupt political system.
"The people who rebelled on August 29 in Martyrs' Square are here to tell them (politicians), your time is over - it is time for change today," activist Samer Mazeh said.
Beirut's central Martyrs' Square has become the focal point of protests after demonstrations at the end of August turned violent.
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