By Arab News
By Najia Houssari
Opposition party protesters broke into Lebanon’s Parliament on Friday demanding new parliamentary polls and voicing their anger at the country’s failing economy.
The Sabaa Party activists breached a security cordon outside the Parliament and stormed the main assembly hall. Once inside, protesters denounced the government as a “failed regime” and condemned what they described as the “corruption and looting” of public funds.
One activist, Baria Al-Ahmar, read from a statement, saying: “The party wishes to deliver a message from within the Parliament to the Lebanese and the entire world. In this chamber, the constitution has been violated dozens of times.”
Al-Ahmar described the presidential election as “illegal” and criticized the failure to change the Parliament speaker, saying: “In this chamber, the worst sectarian quota governments have been formed that have led us to failure.” “This civil resistance is against a corrupt and failed regime that has ruined the most beautiful country in this region,” she said.
The Parliament’s security team arrested four activists and prevented the media from taking photographs of the intruders. However, activists shared footage of Al-Ahmar’s speech inside the chamber on social media. Parliamentary Speaker Nabih Berri, who was not present at the time of the protest, told security forces to issue a warning to the activists and release them.
Sabaa has hundreds of independent activists who describe their party as “the opposite of all other traditional Lebanese parties, and the only real national and cross-sectarian platform.”
“This civil resistance is against a corrupt and failed regime that has ruined the most beautiful country in this region.”
Sabaa’s protest coincided with a demonstration by Communist Party activists, who broke into the headquarters of the General Confederation of Lebanese Workers (CGTL).
One activist read out a statement telling the CGTL leadership that “the workers’ weapon is their voice in the midst of authority’s attack on them.”
A protesters’ spokesman criticized the “Lebanese Banks Association, where banks are accumulating the people’s money looted by the destructive alliance between the troika of banks, the Lebanese central bank and the political power.”
CGTL said that “the storming of the union’s headquarters is irresponsible because its doors are open for all those who wish to demand their rights.”
The protests come amid Lebanon’s deteriorating economic situation and a crisis regulating dollar currency in banks that has created a scarcity of dollars.
Riad Salameh, Bank of Lebanon governor, said during a ICC FraudNet conference in Beirut that “dollar bills are available in the market, the monetary situation is stable, and a mechanism will be adopted to facilitate the process of importing essential supplies such as medicine, wheat and fuel.”