Clashes in Lebanon injure 300 as Parliament votes on government

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Clashes erupted between protesters and Lebanese security forces when demonstrators attempted Tuesday morning to break through the cement barriers placed by the government around the Parliament.

Around 300 Lebanese were wounded in the clashes, 40 of whom were hospitalized, the Lebanese Red Cross said.

Security forces fired tear gas and water canons at the stone-throwing protesters, who were seeking to prevent MPs and government officials from reaching the parliament for a vote of confidence in the new cabinet of Prime Minister Hassan Diab.

The government erected concrete barriers in downtown Beirut to try and contain the protesters, which had previously taken over parts of the city center as their own.

During the clashes, the Lebanese army tweeted that riots and violations of public and private properties are damaging the protesters' demands.

Parliament voting on new government

Later, Lebanese parliament convened a session for MPs to hold a vote of confidence on the new government led by Prime Minister Hassan Diab.

MPs are set to vote on a government policy statement that says the country needs “painful steps” to rescue it from an unprecedented financial crisis, which sparked the early morning protests.

Demonstrators have been taking to the streets of Lebanon since October and are fueled by deep resentment for a ruling class seen as mired in corruption, which drove the economy into crisis.

Speaker Berri calls for IMF help

Lebanon needs help from the International Monetary Fund to draw up an economic rescue plan and decide how to repay eurozone bonds, believes Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, according to a government source on Tuesday.

Berri also believes Lebanon cannot “surrender” itself to the IMF “because of its “incapacity to bear its conditions,” said the government source, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity, and an-Nahar, quoting Berri’s visitors.

Berri, who heads the Shia Amal party, has previously criticized protesters and voiced his support for the Hezbollah-allied government.

- With Reuters

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