Protestors turn up heat on Lebanon's government

“You Stink” movement calls on Lebanon’s government to solve garbage crisis in 72 hours or face further protests

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Lebanese women hold signs before the start of an anti-government protest

Intense demonstrations were held in Lebanon on Sunday, after protestors aggravated by the garbage crisis, gave political leaders a deadline to meet their demands or face further demonstrations and protests.

The ultimatum given to the Lebanon’s government, which is expected to end tonight, calls for a sustainable solution to the garbage crisis that started in mid-July, the resignation of Environment Minister Mohammad Mashnuq and for a new parliamentary elections to be held.  

The demands were published and shared on Facebook and Twitter by a Lebanese blogger and activist Joey Ayoub, who is also a Global Voices Online author and a “You Stink” movement member. 

Other demands include holding accountable all those who have spent public funds wastefully during the previous government, as well as holding the minister of interior and all those responsible for opening fire at the demonstrators accountable.  

Rami Khouri described the demands as “reasonable”, but warned that failure to ensure them would mean the end of the "You Stink" movement.

"You Stink" organiser Lucien Bourjeily called the rally "a really big victory."

​"Politicians always use the excuse that 'the people are sectarian'," Bourjeily told AFP. "Yesterday we showed them that the people aren't sectarian and that they can rise up against the political class. A door has been opened that cannot be shut."

"It also shows us that it's a big responsibility for us. We have to achieve the demands that we have set out."

Bourjeily said that he could not reveal what the "escalation" promised by his movement would be, but said, "There would be a role for all citizens."

He said "You Stink" would meet later to discuss the next steps, "Taking every possible scenario into consideration."

There has been no official statement released in response to the ultimatum.

But Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said the demands could only be met through "the preservation and activation of the government."

Political opposition has neglected change in Lebanon for several years.

Garbage crisis

Last weekend, chaos erupted when some protestors threw fireworks and molotov cocktails at security forces who retaliated with tear gas, water cannons, and rubber bullets.  

Many have criticised the riot police's use of force including Amnesty International, which urged Lebanon to investigate the country’s security personnel after they used excessive force to disperse anti-government protesters in Beirut last week, before another mass protest in the capital.

Prime Minister Tammam Salam admitted that the police’s use of force was "excessive."

Interior Minister Nuhad Mashnuq said the results of the investigation into the incident would be revealed on Wednesday.

While the government tried to find a new solution for the uncollected garbage crisis, the powerful sectarian Shiite Muslim party Hezbollah and its Christian allies withdrew from an emergency cabinet meeting, in protest against a proposed disposal plan.

Lebanon has been without a president for over a year, unable to elect a new one since May 2014, due to the parliament’s failure to meet a two-thirds working majority required to hold an electoral session.

TRTWorld and agencies