Lebanon protesters postpone demonstration after violent clashes
BEIRUT - Protesters urging the Lebanese government to resign over a trash crisis said Monday they were postponing an additional demonstration and regrouping after violent clashes erupted in Beirut on Sunday night.
The organisers of the "You Stink" campaign said the decision did not mean their protests were over.
It came after two days of protests that were sparked by anger over a trash collection crisis but evolved into an outlet for broader frustrations.
Protesters want not only a solution to the trash problem, but also an end to corruption, political stagnation and to fix the country's crumbling infrastructure.
Both days of demonstrations ended in violence, though organisers accused unaffiliated "troublemakers" of attacking security forces.
"Today's demonstration at 6:00pm has been postponed," the campaign announced on their Facebook page on Monday.
"The movement has not and will not stop," they said.
"Postponing from today to another date this week is not a retreat. We need to reassess and organise our demands. We have not and will not give up on anyone or our just demands," they added.
Organisers were scheduled to give a press conference later on Monday afternoon.
The decision to postpone further demonstrations came after violence broke out at a protest in Beirut on Sunday night, leaving dozens of people injured.
It was the second time violence erupted between protesters and security forces in central Beirut after similar confrontations on Saturday night.
The Red Cross said it took at least 59 injured people to local hospitals on Sunday night, and treated another 343 people at the scene for light wounds.
The violence erupted on Sunday night after some 200 youths entered the central Riad al-Solh square where demonstrators had been all day without incident and began hurling projectiles at security forces.
They responded by firing tear gas and using water cannons.
Earlier Sunday, Prime Minister Tammam Salam pleaded for calm following the Saturday clashes.
In a press conference, he acknowledged the frustrations of protesters and said he was willing to meet with them.
He also warned that if his 18-month-old government was unable to take action to address the concerns of the population, it would become irrelevant.
"If the cabinet meeting on Thursday is not productive there is no need for further sessions," Salam said.
"We're heading towards collapse if things continue as they are."
He alluded to threats he has made in the past to resign over gridlock in his cabinet, and suggested that option was still on the table.
The protests began over the government's failure to find a new site for Lebanon's trash after the country's largest landfill was closed on July 17.
The government had pledged to find a replacement before the landfill closed but failed to do so, leaving trash piling up in Beirut and its suburbs.
But the demonstrations have grown into a broader expression of discontent in a country that has been without a president for more than a year and that suffers from chronic electricity outages and water shortages.