Lebanon army separates protests near Aoun’s palace

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Lebanon’s armed forces have deployed near the presidential palace east of Beirut to prevent friction between rival Lebanese protesters as the stalemate over forming a crisis government continues.

Anti-government protesters called for a rally on Sunday outside the Presidential Palace in Baabda to press President Michel Aoun to formally begin the process of forming a new government.

Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned over a month ago amid nationwide protests accusing the political elite of corruption and mismanagement of the economy.

The call prompted a counter-rally by supporters of Aoun.

Army soldiers formed a human chain to separate the groups on a highway leading to the palace, preventing clashes.

Meanwhile, hundreds of anti-government protesters marched toward central Beirut amid a deepening economic crisis.

On Sunday, Lebanon’s caretaker Trade Minister, Mansour Bteish, said that he and others had asked the central bank governor and commercial banks at a recent meeting to reduce interest rates by roughly half.

Since protests erupted across Lebanon on October 17, pressure has piled on the financial system. A hard currency crunch has deepened, with many importers unable to bring in goods, forcing up prices and heightening concerns of financial collapse.

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