According to the online news website The Star, Lebanese security forces reportedly “fired rubber bullets, tear gas, and used water cannons to disperse anti-government protesters from central Beirut in clashes that lasted for hours into early Sunday.” The violence around the center of the protest in Beirut was some of “the worst” since Lebanon’s revolution began two months ago.
The Star further reported that more than forty protesters were injured, including “some beaten repeatedly with batons by security forces.” These clashes went on for over eight hours as security forces reportedly fired a stream of tear gas canisters at the hundreds of protesters who set fires in trash cans on the main streets, in part to mitigate the effects of the tear gas.
Amidst the turmoil, the political elite in the country is still struggling to form a new government amid the EVER SO LONG wait to hold Parliamentary Consultations that feel like they will never happen.
Quite vocal about their support of the revolution and its protracted outcomes, “the Lebanese Forces” political party will participate in the upcoming Parliamentary Consultations with President Michel Aoun according to the The Daily Star, but “will not be a part of the government,” the political party’s leader Samir Geagea said on Saturday, December 14, 2019.
The Daily Star further reported that Geagea stated: “Of course we will participate, but the person we will name will be decided during a meeting Monday morning with the Strong Republic parliamentary bloc,” following a meeting with Caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s Adviser Ghattas Khoury.
Lawmakers were scheduled to hold consultations with President Michel Aoun to name the new Lebanese Prime Minister on Monday, December 16, 2019, and yet again, President Aoun just postponed until Thursday, December 19. Lebanon has not had an active Cabinet since Hariri’s October 29, 2019 resignation amid the peak of Lebanon’s ongoing revolution.
Khoury’s meeting with Geagea comes after Free Patriotic Movement leader Gebran Bassil, who is said to head the largest Christian political party in the country, announced earlier this week that he would not be willing to participate in a “politico-technocratic” cabinet headed by Hariri.
Sources close to Bassil and President Aoun reportedly informed local newspaper Al Akhbar that “neither the Free Patriotic Movement nor the President will take part in a new Cabinet headed by Hariri.”
According to President Aoun, the postponing of the parliamentary consultations came up because of the need for “additional discussion of government formation.”
In that regard, U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Jan Kubis, who tweeted about the recent violent events and the need for investigation, followed with two consecutive tweets stating that the postponement was “either a sign that […] politicians start to understand that they cannot neglect the voice of the people, or another attempt to buy time for business as usual….” He warned that “with the collapsing economy it is a risky hazard both for the politicians but even more so for Lebanon and its people.”
1/2 Yet another postponement of the parliamentary consultations. Either a sign that following the events and statements of the last days politicians start to understand that they cannot neglect the voice of the people, or another attempt to buy time for business as usual….
It is of no surprise that the United Nations has its watchful eyes on the current crisis of Lebanon now more than ever. Appeals have been made by the Lebanese people to the Human Rights Council to intervene to “save” Lebanon and the Lebanese from the corruption that has crippled the country and the many human right violations which arose from this conflict.