Thousands of demonstrators poured into central Beirut late Sunday to demand that the country’s top politicians resign. The protests came hours after Prime Minister Tammam Salam implied he might resign following violent protests over a month long garbage crisis.
The scene was reminiscent of the 2011 Arab Spring demonstrations that rocked the region.
The protesters are fighting against the corruption and dysfunction that has led to the country not having a functioning Cabinet or parliament. Lebanon hasn’t had a president for over a year.
Salam said in a news conference that should this Thursday's cabinet meeting be unproductive “then there is no need for the council of ministers.”
The sectarian power-sharing system in Lebanon, which ensures equal representation between the country’s religious sects, often leads to total paralysis.
It was not clear why Salam would hint about resignation. It was unlikely that he would step down, as the move could create a total political vacuum and plunge Lebanon into chaos.
Thousands of protesters chanting “revolution” massed by Sunday afternoon, near the government building.
“The people want to topple the regime!” cried demonstrators, a slogan used during the Arab Spring protests. A ring of barbed wire separated them from the government headquarters as two trucks with water cannons stood ready.
The mood was tense after dozens were wounded yesterday when security forces fired tear gas, rubber bullets, and water cannons at protesters.
The demonstrations on Saturday were by far the largest since rotting garbage began piling up in the streets after the capital’s main landfill was closed a month ago.
Politicians failed to agree on an alternative system for waste management despite the impending closure.