Lebanon ups security at protest sites after violence



Members of the Lebanese army surround protestors gathering outside a bank during continuing anti-corruption demonstrations on November 4th in Sidon. [Mahmoud Zayyat/AFP]

Lebanon increased security around protest centres in Beirut on Wednesday (December 18th), after several nights of violence disrupted two months of largely peaceful demonstrations.

Barricades were erected overnight to block or control access to protest sites where counter-demonstrators have previously tried to attack protestors.

An officer who spoke on condition of anonymity said the concrete barriers were intended to help security forces better control the sites and prevent further clashes.

After violence between protestors and security forces in Beirut on Saturday and Sunday night, and between counter-demonstrators and police on Monday night, the capital remained calm on Tuesday.

But tensions were recorded elsewhere in the country, as Lebanon awaits scheduled parliamentary meetings to name a new premier on Thursday, a required step to form a cabinet.

The demonstrations started October 17th, with protestors demanding a complete overhaul of the ruling class and a new government formed of independent experts.

Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri resigned on October 29th, but bitter divisions between political parties have twice seen parliamentary consultations to name a new premier postponed.

On Tuesday night, young supporters of the Amal movement threw stones at protestors in Nabatieh, a witness said.

Unknown perpetrators set fire to a Christmas tree in the northern city of Tripoli, an AFP correspondent said.

On Monday night, dozens of supporters of Hizbullah and Amal set fire to cars and clashed with security forces trying to prevent them from reaching Beirut's main protest square.

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