Lebanese protests, politics resume with a new, virus twist

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To coincide with the session, hundreds of protesters drove around Beirut in cars in a show of rejection for the political leadership that they blame for the crisis roiling the country.

Source: Associated Press

Lebanon’s parliament began a three-day legislative session at a Beirut theater so that legislators can observe coronavirus social distancing measures, as protests against the country’s ruling elite in the crisis-hit country resumed, in Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday, April 21, 2020,. (AP Photo)

BEIRUT: Lebanese lawmakers convened Tuesday at a cavernous Beirut theater so that parliament members can observe social distancing measures imposed over the coronavirus pandemic. Anti-government demonstrators meanwhile, also obeyed the health safety measures — driving around the city in their cars to protest the country’s spiraling economic and political crisis.

As lawmakers wearing face masks arrived at the theater, known as the UNESCO palace, white uniformed paramedics sprayed them with disinfectant before they filed in one at a time through the gate.

The staggered, three-day session is the first by parliament since Lebanon imposed a lockdown more than a month ago to limit the spread of the virus and after meetings that were scheduled last month were postponed. The novel coronavirus has infected at least 677 people and killed 21 in Lebanon.

On the lawmakers’ agenda are dozens of laws, including fighting corruption in the country’s bloated public sector, a controversial draft about general amnesty, restoring looted public funds and allowing the plantation of cannabis for medial use.

 

To coincide with the session, hundreds of protesters drove around Beirut in cars in a show of rejection for the political leadership that they blame for the crisis roiling the country.

Lebanon has been facing its worst economic crisis in decades, with unemployment figures soaring and the local currency losing more than half of its value against the dollar. Protests broke out nationwide in October against government corruption, further deepening the economic slump.

Over the past months, the protests lost some of their momentum and were subsequently interrupted by the outbreak or the pandemic. Activists, however, said they were resuming the movement but would protest inside their cars, in line with safety measures.

Some of the protesters wore masks with Lebanon’s red and white flag with a green cedar tree.

“We are here to tell them that the revolution will stay, the revolution will not die,” said Hassan Makahal, a protester. “We are going back to the streets and stronger than before.”

 

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