Thousands protest new Hezbollah-backed Lebanese PM

Thousands demonstrate in central Beirut and elsewhere in Lebanon, call on new PM Hassan Diab to abandon the post.

Ben Ariel ,

Demonstration in Beirut against new Lebanese prime minister
Demonstration in Beirut against new Lebanese prime minister
Reuters

Thousands of protesters demonstrated in central Beirut and elsewhere in Lebanon on Sunday against the country’s new prime minister, Hassan Diab, calling on him to abandon the post because he is a member of the ruling elite, The Associated Press reported.

After sunset, protesters closed several roads and highways in Beirut and other parts of the country to rally against the nomination of Diab, who was backed by the Hezbollah terrorist group and its allies.

Diab, a university professor and former education minister, was tasked last with the formation of a government amid ongoing nationwide protests against the country’s ruling elite.

The protests were initially started in response to what has become known as the “WhatsApp Tax”, which would have seen a 20-cent daily fee being charged for messaging app users. The tax was later scrapped but the protests have continued and have morphed into a cross-sectarian street mobilization against a political system seen as corrupt and broken.

Protesters on Sunday also gathered in Beirut’s central Martyrs Square, one of the key places of the protests which have been underway for more than two months.

They later marched toward the parliament building guarded by scores of riot police. Unlike last week, when scuffles were reported between protesters and policemen outside the parliament, there was no violence on Sunday.

While Diab is backed by Hezbollah and its Shiite allies, he lacks the support of major Sunni figures, including the largest Sunni party headed by former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who resigned in October in the wake of the unprecedented nationwide demonstrations.

On Saturday, Diab began his consultations with parliamentary blocs to discuss the shape of the future government.

According to Lebanon’s power-sharing system, the prime minister has to be a Sunni.

Hezbollah, which has a strong political presence in Lebanon, was a major part of Hariri’s cabinet, after the group and its allies gained more than half the seats of the 128-member Lebanese parliament in the election last May.



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