Roads still blocked on ninth day of protests in Lebanon

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Roads and highways across Lebanon remain closed by protesters on Friday, as demonstrations entered their ninth day following last night's speech by Lebanese President Michel Aoun.

Key roads in the country, including in Saida, Beirut, and the highway in Nahr al-Kalb, are being blocked by protesters, reported Lebanon's National News Agency (NNA) on Friday morning. The Presidential Highway in Beirut has also been blocked, tweeted the NNA.

On Thursday, the Lebanese army had attempted to clear road blockades in various areas. In some locations, it backed down against the protesters, with a video of a soldier crying going viral.

Lebanon's President Aoun gave his first speech addressing the protests on Thursday night. He refused to step down, and blamed corruption and sectarianism for the protests.

Aoun also called for dialogue, telling protesters: “I am ready to meet your representatives ... to hear your demands.”

However, his speech was widely mocked online due to a video glitch showing it had been pre-recorded. It seems to have made little impact on the protesters.

Hezbollah supporters are reported to have clashed with protesters in Beirut on Friday, according to Al Arabiya's correspondent.

Video footage shows riot police separating the two groups, as the army reiterated its pledge to protect demonstrators.

The previous night, minor scuffles broke out between protesters and Hezbollah supporters in Riad Al Solh square in Beirut. There are fears of Hezbollah and Amal supporters disrupting the protests, after men on motorbikes tried to get through to demonstrators on Monday night. Protesters have also been attacked in Nabatieh and Sour in the south of the country.

The majority of the protests have remained peaceful since Saturday and promoted a united, cross-sectarian front through informally banning any symbols or flags other than the Lebanese national flag. Protesters continue to chant for the resignation of the entire government.

Lebanon's banks will remain closed while the protests are ongoing, it was announced on Thursday.

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