Hundreds injured in Beirut clashes

Reuters, AFP/Beirut
Filed on February 11, 2020 | Last updated on February 11, 2020 at 09.53 pm
Hundreds, injured, Beirut, clashes, vote of confidence,
Lebanese Protesters clash with the army soldiers on February 11, 2020, as they are gather on in the heart of Beirut to stop a confidence vote for a new government.-AFP

The Lebanese Red Cross said it treated 373 people for injuries, taking 45 of them to hospital.

Hundreds of people were injured in Beirut on Tuesday in clashes between security forces and protesters who rejected the new government as it sought to win a parliamentary vote of confidence.

Smoke wafted through Beirut where riot police fired teargas at protesters seeking to block MPs from reaching the heavily barricaded parliament. The Lebanese Red Cross said it treated 373 people for injuries, taking 45 of them to hospital.

One of the world's most heavily indebted states, Lebanon is facing an unprecedented financial crisis rooted in decades of state waste and corruption which have fuelled public anger.

Parliament later backed the government line-up and programme of incoming Prime Minister Hassan Diab in a confidence vote held despite attempts by protesters to block it.

Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri congratulated the lawmakers who sat through an eight-hour session before holding a vote that saw 63 out of 84 MPs present give their confidence to the new government.

Earlier, Berri was quoted as saying Lebanon should seek IMF technical help to draw up an emergency plan though it could not surrender itself to the IMF because the nation could not bear its conditions.

In comments reported by An Nahar newspaper and confirmed to Reuters by a government source, Berri also said Lebanon should decide whether to pay maturing foreign debt next month based on IMF advice.

Lebanon's crisis came to a head last year as slowing capital inflows from abroad led to a hard currency crunch and protests erupted against the ruling elite.

"People are suffering and the government is not listening, said Lama Tabbara, 34, an unemployed protester. "It takes a long time to uproot an old rotten tree and that's what the government represents."

Eggs and paint were hurled at the cars of MPs and ministers arriving near parliament, but the session went ahead despite the scuffles. At the start, Berri said an MP had received stitches after being hit in the face and head by stones.

Men and women, their faces wrapped in scarves, lobbed rocks at security forces deployed at several locations. Police fired water cannon.



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