The U.S. embassy in Lebanon has said that it supports "the Lebanese people in their peaceful demonstrations," but denied financing a so-called “revolution bus” that sparked controversy.
“We heard the rumors and no, the U.S. Embassy is not financing ‘the revolution bus’,” the embassy tweeted.
"We support the Lebanese people in their peaceful demonstrations and expressions of national unity," it added.
Rumors circulated on social media had accused some organizers of the bus initiative of having ties to Washington and the U.S. embassy. The rumors created tensions and the bus was prevented from moving south beyond the Elia square in Sidon over security fears.
Organizers and protesters who started their journey in the northern Akkar region had sought to reach the southern cities of Tyre and Nabatiyeh, strongholds of Hizbullah and the AMAL Movement which have also witnessed anti-corruption protests.
Lebanon has since October 17 been swept by an unprecedented cross-sectarian protest movement against the entire political establishment, which is widely seen as irretrievably corrupt and unable to deal with a deepening economic crisis.
Some local players, notably the powerful Iran-backed Hizbullah, have accused "external parties" and Western embassies of supporting the popular uprising, including through financial backing.
According to protesters, the bus initiative sought to break down geographical and sectarian barriers and overcome the collective trauma of the 1975-1990 civil war. In an incident blamed for sparking that deadly conflict, a bus was strafed by gunfire on April 13, 1975 in the Beirut suburb of Ain el-Rummaneh.
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