Lebanon’s army has removed roadblocks set up by protesters at a critical juncture linking Beirut to the suburbs and the country’s east, while riot police attempt to remove protesters from blocking roads at Bechara al-Khoury in central Beirut.
Riot police moved in on a group of protesters at one of the entrances to central Beirut, where the largest demonstrations have taken place. After minor scuffles, they backed away.
In other areas, Lebanese security forces pushed and dragged away protesters who refused to move from roadblocks in central Beirut, to reopen roads closed during a campaign of civil disobedience.
The protesters had set up several roadblocks around Beirut and on major highways to enforce their calls for the government to step down amid nationwide protests, now in their tenth day.
When the riot police moved in to clear the roadblocks on the ring road that links eastern and western Beirut, many protesters sat or lay down on the asphalt in defiance.
Some protesters chanted: “The people want to bring down the regime.”
“We are no bandits,” cried one man. “We have rights and are asking for them.”
The removal of the roadblocks on Saturday comes on the tenth day of protests in which protesters have called for civil disobedience until the government steps down.
Soldiers removed chairs and tents set up in the middle of the intersection that links Beirut to the presidential palace, the mountain, the east and suburbs of Beirut. The protesters did not resist but one broke into tears, telling the local LBC television station that he was disappointed the army had to force them to remove the roadblocks.
The protests have paralyzed the country, which already faces a deepening economic crisis. The unprecedented nationwide rallies united the Lebanese against long-serving politicians, accused of corruption and mismanagement.
The military had warned that blocking roads was in violation of the law. Other roadblocks have continued. In one location on the coastal highway to the south, the residents blocked the road as security forces attempted to remove a roadblock.
In central Beirut, two women and two men were manning a roadblock that separated the eastern and western sector of the Lebanese capital. They said they have been at the roadblock for 10 days and have no plan to dismantle it but added that they would not fight the army. They let through an ambulance and a motorcycle.
"This is an uprising of a people who have been suffering for the last 30 years and can no longer tolerate their lies, theft and hypocrisy," said 29-year-old Rima, who was manning the roadblock, referring to the government. "We are protesting. We are not vandalizing or violent."
Rima declined to give her last name, worried about her safety.