The southern port city of Sidon is bracing for a general strike on Monday to protest Salafist cleric Sheikh Ahmed al-Asir’s sit-in that has crippled the city economically and threatened security deterioration.
Sidon’s political, economic and religious officials will meet on Sunday to make an official announcement of the strike against Asir’s sit-in and his closure of the city’s northern entrance.
The cleric has rejected to end the sit-in pending a government decision on Hizbullah’s arsenal.
A meeting held on Friday between MP Bahia Hariri and the head of the Popular Nasserite Movement, Osama Saad - their first since the last parliamentary elections in 2009 - was a strong sign of attempts by Sidon’s officials to confront al-Asir’s sit-in.
Hariri also visited President Michel Suleiman on Saturday.
She held talks with several officials and religious leaders on Friday and announced that the expression of views “must remain peaceful” away from “violence and attacks.”
Her tour came after Saad’s supporters blocked the city’s al-Murjan roundabout with burning tires to protest the suffocation of Sidon.
The burning of tires coincided with a march that al-Asir’s supporters held for the second day in a row following Friday prayers.
The protestors marched towards the seaside corniche but returned to the sit-in site after security forces prevented them from reaching the area following a decision by the Sub-Security Council of the South.
Their moves came a day after a brawl between al-Asir’s backers and Saad’s supporters.
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