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ON THE GROUND

Lebanon’s protest movement marks first anniversary, but demands remain unfulfilled

Lebanese activists erect a monument on October 16, 2020, with the inscription "October 17" in Arabic, the first anniversary of the beginning of a nationwide anti-government protest movement, in front of the devastated port of the capital Beirut where a massive explosion took place more than two months ago.
Lebanese activists erect a monument on October 16, 2020, with the inscription "October 17" in Arabic, the first anniversary of the beginning of a nationwide anti-government protest movement, in front of the devastated port of the capital Beirut where a massive explosion took place more than two months ago. © Joseph Eid, AFP
4 min

Tens of thousands of people took to the streets in Lebanon on Saturday, to mark the first anniversary of a non-sectarian protest movement that began on October 17, 2019. Demonstrators are calling for real change, an end to the sectarian political system and an improvement in basic services such as water and electricity. Although it has rocked the political elite, the movement has yet to achieve its goal of sweeping reform, activists told FRANCE 24.

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One year on, the political movement has left a positive impact on the youth, activists said.

“It changed the narrative on the country, specifically that everything is now on the table. The political class has been called out for their corruption, and now the younger generation has become active and interested, which allows us to start a real accountability”, Samer Makarem told FRANCE 24’s team in Lebanon.

Three prime ministers have resigned since the movement started but the country's barons, many of them warlords from the 1975-90 civil war, remain firmly in power despite international and domestic pressure for change.

But many others gave up hope since no tangible change has been made for now.

Demonstrators plan to march from the main Beirut protest camp towards the port – the site of a devastating August 4 explosion, for which the alleged corruption and incompetence of the hereditary elite has been blamed.

Click on the player above to watch the full report.

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