Gemayel Says 'Proud to be Lebanese' after People 'Turned the Tables'
Kataeb Party chief MP Sami Gemayel has announced that he is “proud to be Lebanese,” amid the unprecedented protests that are engulfing Lebanon.
“Ever since I started my struggle, I have been told that I should not bet on the people and that I should join the game,” Gemayel tweeted.
“After all these years, I can answer: no one can stand in the face of the progress of the peoples and today the Lebanese people from all sects have turned the tables on subservience and political cronyism,” he added.
“How proud I am to be Lebanese!” Gemayel went on to say.
The protesters have taken to the streets despite calls for calm from politicians and arrests and riots that marred some demos. Many waved billowing Lebanese flags and insisted the protests should remain peaceful and non-sectarian.
The demonstrators are demanding a sweeping overhaul of Lebanon's political system, citing grievances ranging from austerity measures to poor infrastructure.
They have blocked main roads and threatened to topple the country's fragile coalition government.
Most Lebanese politicians have uncharacteristically admitted the demonstrations are spontaneous, rather than blaming outside influences.
Saturday evening, thousands were packed for a third straight night into the Riyadh al-Solh Square in central Beirut, despite security forces having used tear gas and water cannons to disperse similar crowds a day before.
And on Sunday, they were flocking to the Riad al-Solh Square in downtown Beirut from the capital and other areas, as road-blocking protests continued across Lebanon.
The demonstrations first erupted on Thursday, sparked by a proposed 20 US-cent tax on calls via messaging apps such as WhatsApp.
Such calls are the main method of communication for many Lebanese and, despite the government's swift abandonment of the tax, the demonstrations quickly swelled into the largest in years.
Prime Minister Saad Hariri has given his deeply divided coalition until Monday evening to give back a reform package aimed at shoring up the government's finances and securing desperately needed economic assistance from donors.