Water cannon, tear gas & scores injured as Lebanese protesters clash with police

Lebanese Security Forces Control Situation in Central Beirut After Clashes With Protesters

Lebanon: Scores injured as riots break out in Beirut

This weekend's clashes come as Lebanese politicians continue to struggle to agree a new government.

Anti-government protesters use a metal barrier to ram security forces taking cover during clashes near the parliament headquarters, in Beirut, Lebanon, on January 18, 2020.

Lebanon has been ruled by the same group of political elites since the end of its 15-year long civil war in 1990.

But protesters say they want to scrap the old system, and demand only impartial technocrats staff a new government to address their growing economic woes, including a severe liquidity crisis. A photographer saw young men uproot parking metres.

"It's clear that the more they [security forces] step up their violence, the more people's strength and determination grow".

Human Rights Watch denounced what it called "the brutal use of force unleashed by Lebanon's riot police against largely peaceful demonstrators".

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Saad al-Hariri, who resigned as premier in October, said the violence threatened civil peace.

As more protestors began to gather downtown, police forced them back to the central Martyrs' Square, which has been the hub for a string of recent demonstrations.

Prime Minister-designate Hassan Diab met with President Michel Aoun on Sunday evening but left without giving any statement as a deal on the new cabinet remained elusive.

The Lebanese Red Cross said it took 65 people to hospitals and treated 100 others on the spot, calling on people to donate blood.

Riot police fired tear gas and water cannon, chasing protesters armed with tree branches and sign posts in a commercial district near Lebanon's parliament.

"The continuation of the caretaker government is not the solution so let's stop wasting time and have the government bear the responsibility", Hariri said.

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Lebanon has one of the largest debt ratios in the world with a debt that stands at more than 150% of the country's GDP. The Lebanese pound fell more than 60 percent against U.S. dollar over the period. The economy has seen no growth and foreign inflows dried up in the already heavily indebted country that relies on imports.

Banks have also imposed strict controls on foreign transfers and the withdrawal of United States dollars.

Security forces and the military had prepared for more violence Sunday, blocking access to some buildings in central Beirut with razor wire, and closing off access to areas that included a popular tourist site. Workers also welded fencing together across roads leading to Parliament.

On the quiet, rainy streets Sunday, shopkeepers, banks and other businesses swept up broken glass and boarded up windows.

Nearby soot and ashes still littered the ground where security forces burned the tents of the protesters' sit-in during the chaotic melee.

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