This Is How The Lebanese Responded To The New Government

On Tuesday 21st of January, at around 10 pm, Lebanese people were taken by surprise by the announcement of the new Lebanese government.

After so many promises, and so many delays, complications, and disagreements, people didn’t expect it will materialize any time soon.

PM-designate Hassan Diab finally settled on a government of 20 members, with him heading it as the Prime Minister, thus the impossible knot has been dissolved, and the rescue government was just formed on January 21st.

The people, however, were not pleased. Even before the final announcement, they were already on the streets, protesting, and blocking roads with burning tires and garbage bins.

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"We'll see your tear gas, water canon and rubber bullets. And we'll raise you stones, street sign poles and a thing for misting orchid plants… What's more, we'll deliver them directly" said no protester in Lebanon ever – but these are their weapons of necessity. The orchid misting thingy is a stroke of genius, it has gasoline in it. Behind the metal and barbed wire barricade are Interior Security Forces charged with keeping protesters out of parliament. While so far no one has breached the barricade, many have had a damn good try over the weekend, during intense stand-offs lasting hours as the situation in Beirut descended into chaos 2 nights running. I even saw one guy racing to the frontline carrying two poinsettia plants he had got from goodness knows where. Dearly wish I had managed to capture the moment he lobbed them at the barricade, but alas, I had to run from the water canon. And still no cabinet has been announced. As the capital descends into crisis, politicians are apparently arguing about how many ministers the cabinet should contain. The interim Prime Minister Hassan Diab is standing firm at the usual 18, while other parties are not happy with this on sectarian grounds and want at least 2 more seats to balance sectarian representation. #lebanonrevolts #beirut #thawra #riot #protest #policebarricade #streetbattle #violentprotest #stones #plantmister #innovative #razorwire #lebanese

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People gathered in Riyad el-Solh in downtown Beirut, in the area around the Parliament. The protest started with around 20 persons, but the number went expanding significantly after the announcement.

The protesters in downtown went expressing their anger by removing the barbed fence and metal gate at the entrance of the parliament, which renewed the tension between them and the parliamentary police.

Revolutionary chants filled the area, and the two main phrases out of people’s mouths were: “The people want the fall of the regime” and “Nobody’s listening to us.” 

As for the Ring Bridge, protesters gathered there then moved to join the others in Riyad el-Solh.

Among the first roads to get blocked by the protesters in Beirut were Al-Madinah el-Riyadiyeh, Tarik El-Jdideh, El-Cola, and Corniche El-Mazraa. The Sunni protesters there insisted that Diab does not represent the Sunna sect in Lebanon.

The protesters deemed the new government corrupt when they first saw the list of names. Same in Khaldeh and El-Ne’meh where people are refusing to be ignored.

Verdun in Beirut and Jounieh and Zouk in Kessrwan followed suit, with the residents blocking the roads with burning tires in anger.

They strongly refuse this new government from its head to its members. They too feel deceived, lied to, and diminished.

The Lebanese people who took to the streets are convinced that this is a political government. It contains members affiliated to politicians, named by political parties, hence by the corrupt people who preceded them. So, nothing is changed.

Despite Hassan Diab’s speech assuring that this government is formed of “people of competencies” and independent specialists, people are not buying it.

The aim of this revolution, the whole point of it, is that Lebanon is governed by “expert and independent members with no affiliation to the same political parties and their leaders” so they can save the country from its miserable status quo. 

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إلى الساحات! قوى المنظومة تستخف بالناس ومطالب الثورة والتي طالبت منذ 17 تشرين الأوّل الماضي بحكومة مستقلة من خارج المنظومة، فإعلان حكومة محاصصة طائفيّة لا تختلف في شيء عن الحكومة التي أسقطت في الشارع لا يعدو كونه خطوة معادية للناس. وهو اعادة انتاج فاشلة لحكومة لم ولن تتمكن من تقديم حلول لمعالجة الفشل والأزمات التي سببتها المنظومة، في الوقت الذي يعاني لبنان أزمة مالية واقتصادية تضع البلد على حافة الانهيار. #إلى_الشارع الآن عند مجلس النواب وفي جميع ساحات الثورة، رفضاً لحكومة الإنهيار المطروحة، وتمسكاً بمطالب الثورة وأهدافها بحكومة مستقلة مصٌغرة: – تحمل برنامج إنقاذي يعالج الازمة المالية والاقتصادية بشكل عادل ويجنب تحميل تكلفتها لأصحاب الدخل المحدود والمتوسط. – تحضر لإجراء انتخابات نيابية مبكرة وفق قانون يضمن صحة التمثيل #إلى_الشارع #كلن_يعني_كلن #القوة_للناس #لبنان_ينتفض

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In the Bekaa, roads in Chtaura, Saadnayel, Taalabeya, el-Marj, Riyaq, and Bar Elias were also blocked. Several roads in Tripoli, where there is a state of utter and complete frustration, were also blocked.

In Qasqas, Beirut, the Lebanese army arrived as soon as the tires were getting burned to try to re-open the road.

The new government is rejected by Lebanese people and revolutionaries; that’s to wrap it all up. They are making it clear that they don’t trust this new government, nor the people who formed it. 

This is no surprise. This has been their stance since Hassan Diab was named head of the new government, a former minister himself.

As we have seen several times now, the more the Lebanese people feel ignored, the more it fuels them to revolt.

Maybe the Lebanese people will be satisfied once the government starts executing, and quickly, major reforms. Only then it could start earning their trust.

For now, they don’t even want to see them try. People are still on the streets and their numbers are on the rise.

The equation is simple. The members of this new government were named by political parties and upon their final agreement.

Hence it is unreasonable to believe that they will fight corruption, hold politicians accountable, bring back the stolen funds, and stop the leakages of funds and under-the-table deals that suit those who named them. 

So, are the people angry? Yes, indeed.