Scuffles as Retired Servicemen Try to Storm Grand Serail

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Scuffles broke out Monday between security forces and retired servicemen outside the Grand Serail during a cabinet session on the state budget.

Riot police fired water cannons on the protesters after they crossed metallic barricades and approached the government's headquarters.

Some protesters also burned tires as one of them was reportedly injured.

The scuffles continued for around half an hour before calm was restored.

Security forces have since reinforced their ranks in the area.

Some protesters said they were seeking to meet with Defense Minister Elias Bou Saab to demand that their salaries do not get slashed as part of the government's new austerity measures.

MTV meanwhile said Bou Saab was tasked by the government with negotiating with the protesters.

“A lot of things that are worrying them are not being discussed,” Bou Saab said after meeting a delegation from the servicemen.

The delegation meanwhile said that the minister told them that only 3% will be deducted from their medical care compensations in return for exempting them from the stamps that they pay for in this regard.

A pensioner had tried to set himself on fire before he was stopped by other demonstrators, the National News Agency said.

"They threaten our income and our benefits after we served our country for years," one pensioner said in a televised interview.

Another protester said he regretted the clash between the demonstrators and security forces.

"This is first time security forces confront (former) security forces," he said.

The retirees and other public employees have staged several sit-ins in recent days to warn against any wage cuts.

Lebanon has vowed to slash public spending to unlock $11 billion worth of aid pledged by international donors during an April 2018 conference in Paris.

Last month, Prime Minister Saad Hariri vowed to introduce "the most austere budget in Lebanon's history" to combat the country's bulging fiscal deficit, sparking fears among public sector employees that their salaries may be cut.

Lebanon is one of the world's most indebted countries, with public debt estimated at 141 percent of GDP in 2018, according to credit ratings agency Moody's.

Comments 3
Thumb s.o.s 20 May 2019, 16:56

Those who have privileges want to keep them... they’re young but already retirees.... I guess they could and should serve their country till the age of 70 just like everyone else should.

Thumb justice 20 May 2019, 17:33

The same 'servicemen' who used to use water canons and tear gas against protesters are having a taste of their own medicine.

Thumb s.o.s 20 May 2019, 17:44

Oh yeah!