Hundreds take to Beirut streets over corruption

Beirut (AFP) –


Hundreds of Lebanese took to the streets Sunday in Beirut to protest rampant corruption and poor living conditions, as anger mounts over political deadlock that has left the country without a government since May.

People marched to the prime minister's office in central Beirut to demonstrate against Lebanon's fractious political class, widespread graft and failing public services.

Some protesters sported the iconic yellow vests worn by anti-government protesters in France, adorned with a cedar tree -- Lebanon's national symbol.

"There is corruption and theft of state funds," 43-year-old Hana told AFP.

"We are governed by a political class of corrupt thieves who rule with sectarian fanaticism," she said.

Parliamentary polls in May gave Saad Hariri a new term as prime minister, but seven months on, debate still drags on over ministerial portfolios.

Demonstrators demanded what they called their "most basic rights", including a reintroduction of housing loans stalled for nearly a year and more access to healthcare, water and electricity.

They were met by security forces who erected a cordon in the city centre.

Dozens also demonstrated in the northern city of Tripoli and in Nabatiyeh in the south.

The protests came after hundreds took part in demonstrations led by Lebanon's Communist Party last Sunday.

Lebanon's economy is on the brink of collapse and France warned this month that the country could soon miss out on a much-needed aid programme agreed in Paris earlier this year if the political deadlock continues.