BEIRUT/SIDON: Lebanon’s main highways were blocked by protesters Monday as people took to the streets on the 19th day of the Lebanese uprising.
After a few days of cleared roads following a crackdown on roadblocks by security forces, people began to obstruct roads again Sunday night. Their move came after tens of thousands gathered in Downtown Beirut for the third consecutive Sunday.
The Ring Bridge in central Beirut was blocked most of the day Monday. Riot police briefly opened the bridge by carrying away protesters who refused to leave. About 10 minutes later, a group of demonstrators who had been blocking a road leading to Gemmayzeh rushed to join their fellow protesters and blocked the bridge again.
“We will not allow anyone to rob us of our revolution and our dreams,” said one protester who was sitting on the road.
Hundreds of riot police deployed to the area, then retreated to a nearby parking area.
By the afternoon, the eastbound lane at the Ring Bridge, which leads to Ashrafieh, was reopened, while the westbound lane, which leads to Hamra, remained blocked.
The Chevrolet intersection, east of Beirut, remained blocked throughout the day despite multiple attempts by security forces to convince protesters to open it.
In the morning, the main highway north of Beirut was blocked at Nahr al-Kalb, Jal al-Dib and Jbeil. Protesters allowed military and emergency vehicles to pass. At noon, the highway was reopened at Nahr al-Kalb, while the highway at Jbeil was blocked with burning tires by the afternoon.
The highway at Khaldeh, just south of Beirut, remained blocked, along with a road in south Lebanon connecting Hasbaya and Marjayoun.
In Bohssas, north Lebanon, the Army fired rubber bullets at protesters blocking the road, injuring one man, the state-run National News Agency reported in the morning.
After protesters blocked the highway leading to Tripoli at Bohssas, it was reopened around noon following negotiations with the Army. Other blocked roads in Tripoli were also reopened.
People in Halba, Akkar, also gathered, blocking a main road in the area.
In Sidon, the Army opened all blocked roads. The protesters then gathered outside public administrations such as Electricite du Liban, the local water provider and the state-run telecoms company Ogero. Protesters said they were later forced by Army Intelligence to move away from Ogero's gate. However, they remained outside the locked gate while others stood outside banks in the city, shouting chants calling on the banks to close their doors. A similar protest was held in Tripoli.
The road connecting Sidon to Beirut remained blocked throughout the day by rocks near the exit to Barja.
In Tyre, protesters gathered under umbrellas on the roadside.
A road in Hemlaya, Metn, was also blocked by cars earlier in the day, while others in Aley, Tripoli, Zahle, and Bekaa also obstructed traffic.
Hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets since Oct. 17 in nationwide protests against state corruption, demanding the government’s resignation and the formation of a technocratic one. Their demands include early parliamentary elections and an early end to President Michel Aoun’s three-year-old term.
Saad Hariri resigned from his position as prime minister last week, bringing down the government. Protesters Monday criticized the delay by Aoun in calling for binding parliamentary consultations, which are necessary to designate a new premier. – Additional reporting by Mohammed Zaatari