THU 9 - 7 - 2020
Date: Nov 19, 2019
Source: The Daily Star
Uprising Day 34: Protesters scuffle with police before parliament session
Ghada Alsharif| The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Riot police scuffled with protesters in downtown Beirut Tuesday, ahead of a parliamentary session they have vowed to prevent on the 34th day of Lebanon’s uprising.

Hundreds of protesters gathered early morning to block roads surrounding and leading to the parliament building, in an attempt to deny MPs access to the scheduled parliamentary session.

The scuffles erupted between protesters and security forces outside Downtown Beirut’s Annahar building and Riad al-Solh Square, both main veins leading to Nejmeh Square. Protesters were seen removing barbed wire in an attempt to edge closer to Parliament as riot police advanced, less than three hours before the session was scheduled to start.

Protesters also attacked a convoy of three cars in Bab Idris to prevent them from passing through to Parliament. The cars, believed to be carrying at least one MP, were unable to enter and forced to return as protesters smashed their windows with metal poles and barricades after accusing the drivers of trying to run them over.

In Riad al-Solh, protesters lit barrels of garbage on fire. “We will not permit any MP to enter today,” said a protester in Riad al-Solh. Others chanted, "The people want the downfall of the regime."

A parliamentary session to elect committee members followed by a legislative session were initially scheduled for last Tuesday, but Speaker Nabih Berri postponed them for a week for security reasons. The sessions are expected to start at 11 a.m.

The legislative session includes draft laws related to fighting corruption as well as pensions and a general amnesty. Protesters have widely criticized the proposals.

Meanwhile, banks reopened Tuesday for the first time in 10 days after announcing temporary measures, including a weekly cap of $1,000 on withdrawals of hard currency and transfers abroad limited to urgent personal expenses.

Kubis calls for public participation in draft law discussions

BEIRUT: A top United Nations official in Lebanon called for the participation of public and civil society in discussing draft laws, with Parliament scheduled to hold a legislative session Tuesday.

“Meaningful accountability starts with full transparency ... Opening the draft laws for comments from public, civil society is a good first step,” U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Jan Kubis stated Monday, via Twitter.

With Parliament scheduled to consider and vote on a series of draft laws, Kubis called for the “participation of civil society in the discussions.”

He also urged the involvement of civil society “in the hearings on the [draft laws'] implementation,” describing it as a “needed step.”

A legislative session scheduled for Tuesday will be held so that lawmakers can vote on measures related to corruption, a general amnesty and pensions. Many criticized the session as being unconstitutional and failing to respond to the demands of protesters who have been on the streets since Oct. 17.

According to the Constitution, lawmakers must discuss and endorse the state budget for the upcoming year during Parliament’s October session before doing legislative work.

Protesters have demanded an overhaul of the decades-long sectarian political system, early parliamentary elections, the formation of a technocratic government, accountability and the return of “looted public funds.”

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