Protesters Rally at French Embassy to Denounce 'French Interference'
Protesters led by the leftist Youth Movement for Change rallied Tuesday evening outside the French embassy in Beirut to denounce what they called French “interference” in Lebanese affairs, hours after a top French envoy arrived in Beirut.
The envoy, Christophe Farnaud, is scheduled to meet with top Lebanese officials over the ongoing political and economic crisis in the country.
Earlier on Tuesday, several prominent civil society groups such as Beirut Madinati and the Legal Agenda said they had declined invitations to hold meetings with Farnaud, who has apparently sought to explore the stances of the anti-corruption protest movement.
Lebanon's financial troubles have worsened since economically driven mass protests erupted nationwide last month. The ruling class is also still bickering over the formation of a new government after Saad Hariri bowed to street pressure and tendered his government's resignation on October 29.
The protesters outside the French embassy also demanded the release of Lebanese leftist militant Georges Abdallah from French jails.
Abdallah has been jailed since 1984 over the separate assassinations in France of the assistant U.S. military attaché and an Israeli diplomat and the attempted assassination of an American consul. The three attacks occurred during the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon.
In 1999, Abdallah completed the minimum portion of his life sentence, but several requests for parole were denied. In 2003, a French court granted him parole but the U.S. Department of State objected to the decision. Dominique Perben, the French Minister of Justice at the time, made an appeal against the release.