Ongoing Lebanon Street Protests Affect Many Sectors

Tuesday, 21 May, 2019 - 10:45
Beirut - Asharq Al-Awsat

Sit-ins and popular movements reached an unprecedented level on Monday, against austerity measures to be adopted by the government in its 2019 budget to limit state expenditures.

Public sector employees and veterans took to the streets protesting an expected cut in wages and pensions.
 
News circulated on Monday about a veteran committing suicide over accumulating his debts. Another retired soldier attempted to set himself on fire during a demonstration.
 
A strike by customs employees had ramifications more than one sector. Motorists rushed to gas stations across the country over fears of a possible shortage of fuel. Public administration officials maintained a general strike in various areas since Friday and most schools were closed on Monday.
 
Despite a confirmation by the Chairman of Brax Petroleum, George Brax, that the fuel quantities in stations would last for days if customs employees continued their strike, he told the Central News Agency that it was crucial to address the banks’ supply of the oil sector in dollars, because oil importing companies refused to receive the price of goods purchased by station owners in Lebanese pounds.
 
Following weeks of sit-ins - held to protest against government measures - veterans on Monday stepped up their movements, and tried to storm the Grand Serail, before being faced by military personnel who were on duty during a cabinet session.

However, they succeeded in reaching the Serail’s entrance, and after negotiations, a number of protesters were allowed to to go in to meet with several cabinet ministers.
 
In a reassuring step, Defense Minister Elias Bou Saad met with the retired officers and promised an increase of LBP35 billion in social and medical assistance to the military.
 
The cabinet is currently discussing the 2019 draft budget, with Prime Minister Saad Hariri maintaining Monday that "the discussions regarding possible cuts to wages have yet to take place."

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