Lebanon rocked by second night of violent unrest


Lebanese riot police fire teargas canisters during clashes with anti-government demonstrators in the capital Beirut on December 14, 2019.

Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets, while protesters threw stones.

Social networking video showed dozens of protesters, who stated they'd come in the northern town of Tripoli, joining forces with demonstrators in central Beirut.

Caline Mouawad, a lawyer, said she watched as security forces violently broke up the protests and made a decision to join in solidarity.

The head of the Internal Security Forces, Major General Imad Osman, attended the protest rally on Sunday.

The party founded by Aoun, the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), has said it will not join a government formed on Hariri's terms.

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For the first time since the protests erupted in Beirut, anti-riot police fired rubber-coated bullets as they chased the demonstrators away from the area.

A senior Lebanese Forces official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Al Jazeera that the party would not reverse its decision to refrain from naming a prime minister, so that it can be "convinced" of the makeup of the next government before backing it in Parliament.

Protesters had returned despite a fierce crackdown by security forces the night before when clashes also injured dozens. Clashes continued late into Saturday night.

They triggered the resignation of the Prime Minister, Saad al-Hariri, but talks to form a new government are deadlocked.

Early on Monday, the Lebanese Forces - which is nominally allied with Hariri - announced it would not name anyone during the planned consultations, dealing him another blow.

In response, UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Jan Kubis called for "the identification of instigators of violence".

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The government stepped down on 29 October in the face of unprecedented nationwide protests, but bitterly divided political parties have failed to agree on a new premier ever since. The protests had largely been peacefully since they began on October 17.

There was no immediate comment from Hariri's office.

According to the Lebanese constitution, the premier must always be a Sunni Muslim, while the presidency is reserved for a Christian Maronite and the speakership of the lower house is occupied by a Shia Muslim, according to the power-sharing deal between the three main religious sects. After weeks of bickering and despite calls from the protesters for a technocratic government, politicians seem set on bringing Hariri back to the post.

They were supporters of the Shia Hezbollah and Amal groups, angered by some of the criticism of their leaders by anti-government protesters.

Hariri had asked the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank for help developing a reform plan to address the economic crisis.

Another protester, Huda Kerbagi, said she expected violent protests for some more days, warning that violence will beget violence, particularly in a diverse society like Lebanon. Lebanon's debt stands at $87 billion or 150 percent of GDP.

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