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LEBANON: Protesters denounce government for economic failures

January 30, 2011 |  6:48 am

Several hundred mostly Leftist activists marched through the capital on Sunday to protest the indifference of Lebanon's fractious ruling class to the economic and social woes of working people.

The protest in Beirut follows massive mobilization in Egypt against President Hosni Mubarak and a successful protest movement in Tunisia that ousted former President Zine el Abidine ben Ali.

"In Tunisia and Egypt, they had just one dictator," said Maytham Kassir, a 20-year-old student at the Lebanese University. "We have 15 or 16."


Kassir accused Lebanese lawmakers, many of whom act as local tribal leaders or inherited their power from a political dynasty, of adopting populist stances to get elected and then neglecting the needs of Lebanese citizens once they are in power.

Protesters chanted slogans against both former Prime Minister Saad Hariri and his political rival, recently appointed Prime Minister Najib Mikati, accusing them of general corruption and calling for bread, freedom and "national honor."

"Our goal is to protest subjugation, corruption and theft, and to defend the people's right to live in dignity," said 55-year-old Ali Muhiyeddine, a member of the executive board of the General Workers Union. "We want a government that believes in justice and the rights of citizens."

-- Meris Lutz in Beirut

Video and photo: Hundreds of protesters gather to denounce the failure of Lebanon's political elite to address working people's needs. Credit: Meris Lutz