Last Update 15:22
Friday, 07 August 2020

Lebanon's Berri calls for dialogue with 24 hours left of 'You Stink' ultimatum

Mass protests have highlighted government inefficiencies

Amina Zaineldine, Monday 31 Aug 2015
Lebanese anti-government protesters chant slogans during a protest against the trash crisis and government corruption in downtown Beirut, Lebanon, Saturday, Aug. 29, 2015. (AP Photo)
Views: 1340
Views: 1340

With 24 hours left of the ultimatum issued by the 'You Stink' movement, the speaker of the Lebanese parliament, Nabih Berri, has called for prime minister Tamam Sallam to hold talks over the first ten days of September to resolve the current impasse.

Berri's calls come as a response to Saturday's massive demonstrations which saw tens of thousands protesting in Beirut's Martyrs' Square.

The protests began on the 22nd of August calling for the government to step down due to its inability to resolve the garbage crisis. They have since escalated with violent clashes between Lebanese security forces and the protestors.

Berri set an agenda for the talks, including issues such as the presidential elections and how parliament works.

Top Lebanese politicians have responded to Berri, who is part of the 8 March Alliance. Saad Al-Hariri who leads Movement of the Future, part of the 14 March Alliance, was the first to respond, welcoming dialogue.

Leader of the Lebanese Forces Party Samir Geagea said his group would consider dialogue, noting previously unsuccessful attempts at dialogue.

The protesters have accused both alliances of being corrupt and incompetent.

The 'You Stink' movement issued a set of demands on Saturday on its Facebook page, which they expected the government to submit to within 72 hours.

The demands include holding the interior minister and any others responsible accountable for the opening of fire on protesters.

Also on the list of demands is the resignation of the environment minister, who remains in office despite withdrawing from the garbage crisis committee, on Monday morning to be replaced by agriculture minister Akham Chehayeb.

Initially the protests were in reaction to the failure of the government to collect garbage. This failure was caused by the government's deal with private company Sukleen ending. Sukleen had exclusive rights to garbage collection in Lebanon.

In an interview with the independent e-zine Jadaliyya, the Beirut-based journalist Moe Ali Nayal said that other signs of discontent about the garbage crisis have been appearing.

He said the waste from the two most heavily populated areas in Lebanon – Beirut and Mount Lebanon – was being dumped in the coastal town of Na'ameh.

Earlier this summer, the residents of Na'ameh blocked the road leading to the garbage dump due to the "ecological damage and health hazards" it caused.

Nayal also said that the aim of the protests has shifted.

The 'You Stink' movement was initiated by a group of civil society activists, who were particularly active on social media.

However the discontent of the people went further than garbage-collection, and many have joined the demonstrations to "denounce government paralysis and corruption."

On its Facebook page the "You Stink" movement posted pictures of solidarity from cities around the world such as Boston, New York, Munich and Paris.

According to Nayal the 'You Stink' movement has also provided a platform for "youths from marginalized and poverty-stricken areas".

Short link:



© 2010 Ahram Online.