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Huge protest in Beirut piles pressure on government

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Huge protest in Beirut piles pressure on government


Hundreds of thousands of protesters have gathered in central Beirut for what they have promised will be the biggest rally yet, aimed at bringing down the pro-Western government in Lebanon. Supporters of Hezbollah and its Christian allies staged their first rally ten days ago, surrounding government headquarters and vowing to remain until the current regime ends.

But Prime Minister Fouad Siniora refuses to go. Now the opposition is threatening to raise the stakes.

A pro-Hezbollah newspaper said strikes were planned for Monday, leading to a campaign of civil disobedience, which would paralyse the capital’s ports and roads. The government is taking no chances. Thousands of police and soldiers have been deployed in Beirut to counter unrest.

The prime minister says the future of the country is at stake. He has warned against an escalation of the situation, saying it would throw the country into a cycle of violence.

But the opposition argues the government is no longer representative, after the resignation of pro-Syrian ministers. It wants a greater say in Cabinet and the power to veto majority decisions.

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