Millennium Post

Lebanese take to the streets for 10th day, defying Hezbollah

Beirut: Demonstrators in Lebanon blocked roads and trickled into streets across the country for a tenth consecutive day Saturday, defying what they said were attempts by Hezbollah to defuse their movement.

The demonstrators -- who have thronged towns and cities across Lebanon since October 17 -- are demanding the removal of the entire political class, accusing many across different parties of systematic corruption.

Numbers have declined since October 20, when hundreds of thousands took over Beirut and other cities in the largest demonstrations in years, but could grow again over the weekend.

The chief of powerful Shiite movement Hezbollah on Friday called on his supporters to leave the streets, warning that any cabinet resignation would lead to "chaos and collapse" of the economy.

He also said that the protesters were being manipulated by "foreign powers" who wanted to leverage the unrest, shortly after his supporters clashed with demonstrators in Beirut.

His statement sowed divisions among Hezbollah supporters, some of whom were still protesting on Saturday morning.

Hassan Koteiche, 27, from a Hezbollah stronghold in Beirut, said he agreed with most of Nasrallah's "excellent" speech, but had some reservations.

"This does not mean we are against his discourse but there is a divergence in opinion," he told AFP.

"The main thing I disagree with is his belief that if the government or parliament falls then we would have no alternative," he added.

"That is not true. We have alternatives. We have noble and uncorrupt people," who can govern.

Main roads remained closed across the country on Saturday morning, as the army tried to reopen key routes.

Northeast of Beirut, dozens of demonstrators formed a human chain to prevent the army from removing a dirt berm blocking a sea-side road.

In central Beirut, they sat cross-legged on a key artery that connects the capital to its suburbs and surrounding regions but the army later cleared them and opened the road.

Nearby, droves of volunteers swept streets and collected rubbish after protests went late into the night, with people dancing on the street and in and abandoned former movie theatre.

Demonstrators who had slept in tents near Martyrs Square, said they were still defiant on the tenth day of their protest movement, despite attempts by Hezbollah to rattle protesters.

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