Men on motorbikes waving Hezbollah and Amal flags have descended on central Beirut, where the Lebanese army is stopping them from reaching the anti-government protesters.
Al Arabiya English’s correspondent reports around 100-200 men on motorbikes waving Hezbollah and Amal flags arrived at Bechara al-Khoury at around 21:00 p.m. Lebanese time on Monday night.
The Lebanese army has reportedly stopped the men from reaching the protesters in Martyr’s Square and downtown Beirut. People are only being allowed to travel by foot.
One man reportedly had his Hezbollah flag confiscated by soldiers. The protests have informally banned any party political flags and instead flown the Lebanese national flag.
Some protesters have been seen heading south towards the Hezbollah supporters at Bechara al-Khoury. The Lebanese army has gathered soldiers underneath Bechara al-Khoury bridge, with reports that they are loading tear gas.
Video shows Lebanese soldiers stopping Hezbollah and Amal supporters from approaching protesters near the entrance of downtown Beirut on the road leading to Martyrs’ Square.https://t.co/hllHaq1CbM pic.twitter.com/Ysfal5msVf— Al Arabiya English (@AlArabiya_Eng) October 21, 2019
The Lebanese protesters have issued a statement urging authorities to protect the ongoing demonstrations after supporters of Hezbollah and Amal parties were seen approaching the protest areas.
“We call on the media to contribute to the protection of our lives after two parties were seen attempting to enter protests squares,” the statement read.
Amal is a Shia political party led by Nabih Berri, the current speaker of the Lebanese parliament. The protests, which began on Thursday night, have targeted the entire political class and called for a new government.
Lebanon's government approved a 2020 budget envisaging a deficit of 0.6% of gross domestic product, with banks set to participate in the deficit-reduction through an amount of 5.1 trillion Lebanese pounds ($3.4 billion), Prime Minister Saad Hariri said on Monday.