Protests erupt in Beirut as Macron pays second visit to Lebanon
Protesters in Lebanon have clashed with police and attempted to storm the country’s parliament in Beirut amid a second visit by French President Emanuel Macron since a massive explosion at the capital’s port last month.
The protesters gathered at the city’s Martyrs Square on Tuesday to voice anger at what they believe were government shortcomings, Reuters reported.
The police threw tear gas canisters to disperse the demonstrators. Some protesters, meanwhile, took up makeshift battering rams and took on the gates leading to the legislature’s building.
On August 4, at least 180 people were killed and almost 6,500 others were injured when 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate went up in smoke at Beirut port as the country was already dealing with an economic crisis.
That prompted public outrage at the authorities for alleged negligence regarding storage at the port. Protests were followed by the resignation of the entire government of the then-Prime Minister Hassan Diab.
Soon after the blast, Macron paid a visit to Beirut and appeared at the site of the explosion, having rolled up the sleeves of his shirt and attempting to take the appearance of a concerned leader by roaming around and talking to people. He also pressured the Lebanese authorities in what was denounced as a throwback to Lebanon’s colonial past.
The French head of state, however, renewed the visit on Tuesday, warning Lebanese politicians that they risked being hit with sanctions “if they fail to set the nation on a new course within three months,” according to Reuters.