Protesters Brave Rain to Rally in Beirut, Tripoli, Tyre


Anti-government protesters on Friday braved rain and a stormy weather to stage fresh demos against the ruling class and the banking policies.

The protesters rallied near parliament in downtown Beirut, outside the central bank in Hamra, on the capital’s Ring highway, in the northern city of Tripoli and in the southern city of Tyre.

The demos have so far remained peaceful, in contrast to the violence of the past few days.

Prime Minister-designate Hassan Diab had been expected to announce an 18-member Cabinet on Friday, but last minute disputes among political factions scuttled his latest attempt.

Lebanon has been without a government since Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned Oct. 29 amid nationwide protests against corruption and mismanagement by a political class that has been running the country since the end of the 1975-90 civil war.

Panic and anger have gripped the public as they watch their local currency, pegged to the dollar for almost three decades, plummet, losing more than 60% of its value in recent weeks on the black market. Meanwhile, banks have imposed informal capital controls, limiting withdrawal of dollars and foreign transfers from the country.

The economy has worsened since mass protests began Oct. 17, turning violent in recent weeks as anger mounts. Earlier this week, protesters carried out acts of vandalism, targeting mostly banks.

Protesters have already rejected the new Cabinet saying that although it is going to be made up of experts, the ministers are named by the political groups they blame for Lebanon's problems. The protest movement is insisting that the government be made of independent technocrats.

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