Lebanon’s security forces were holding at least 100 anti-government protesters Thursday, lawyers told AFP, after two nights of demonstrations that turned violent in Beirut.
An unprecedented nationwide movement of protests demanding an end to endemic corruption and the wholesale removal of Lebanon’s political elite broke out nearly three months ago.
With little change in sight, protesters also angered by a financial crisis they blame on Lebanon’s oligarchs resumed their rallies with renewed determination Tuesday after a holiday lull.
Protesters vandalized several banks on the central Hamra street on Tuesday evening and hurled rocks at anti-riot police, who responded with volleys of tear gas canisters.
Gathered in front of the Central Bank again on Wednesday, the protesters then moved to a police station where some of their comrades had been detained the previous night, leading to clashes that left dozens lightly wounded.
According to documents put together by a committee of lawyers defending the protesters and seen by AFP, a total of 101 protesters are currently being detained over the violence.
“The total number of people arrested now tops 100, it’s madness,” said Nizar Saghieh, who heads the Legal Agenda non-government organisation.
A fresh demonstration is planned on Thursday to demand the release of those held.
Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned under pressure from the street less than two weeks into the wave of protests but a new government has still not been formed.
After a long search for a suitable candidate, former education minister and university professor Hassan Diab was nominated and tasked with picking a new cabinet.
Protesters have demanded a government of technocrats excluding the household names that have symbolized Lebanon’s sectarian-based politics for generations.
Government formation talks have proved tough however and despite pressure from Lebanon’s foreign partners and donors, Diab has yet to announce his government.