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Lebanese protesters cleared from highway amid clashes with troops

Lebanese protesters have been using civil disobedience to block roads across the country in support of mass demonstrations against the government.

Cars stuck in a traffic jam as anti-government protesters block a highway in Beirut (AP/Hassan Ammar)
Cars stuck in a traffic jam as anti-government protesters block a highway in Beirut (AP/Hassan Ammar)

By Associated Press Reporter

Lebanese soldiers have forcibly removed protesters from a highway linking the southern city of Sidon to the capital, Beirut.

Around a dozen of the demonstrators were briefly detained. No weapons were used and there were no reports of serious injuries from the confrontation.

The protests have paralysed the country but have been largely peaceful, with security forces exercising restraint.

There have been few reports of arrests or serious injuries since the demonstrations began, and security forces have stood by during mass rallies held in public squares.

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Anti-government protesters set fire to tyres blocking a highway linking Beirut to north Lebanon (AP/Hassan Ammar)

On Sunday, thousands of protesters formed a human chain stretching along major highways in and around Beirut.

Schools, banks and most businesses have remained closed, raising concerns that many Lebanese would not be able to receive their salaries at the end of the month.

There are also fears of a run on the banks that could further deplete the country’s limited supply of foreign currency, potentially affecting its ability to import wheat, fuel and medicine.

Long before the protests began, Lebanon’s economy was already suffering from a massive budget deficit and rising unemployment. Its debt ratio of £74 billion is one of the highest in the world, accounting for more than 150% of its gross domestic product.

The protesters blame the economic crisis on political leaders from various religious sects and factions who have dominated the country since the civil war. They say the sectarian power-sharing arrangement that ended the war has spawned networks of corruption, patronage and nepotism that have depleted the treasury and gutted public services.

Thirty years after the end of the war, power outages are still frequent, the water supply is unreliable and trash goes uncollected in many areas.

PA

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