BEIRUT — Retired Internal Security Forces officers demonstrated Tuesday in front of the Interior Ministry in Beirut to demand medical coverage and payment of school fees for their children, threatening to escalate their action up to the level of "preventing the elections" on Sunday if their demands are not heard.
Here's what we know:
• In a Lebanon in the midst of crisis, the purchasing power of salaries and pensions of police, military and civil servants has been greatly reduced due to the depreciation of the national currency.
• During their sit-in, the ISF retirees forced their way into the courtyard of the ministry after Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi refused to receive them. They brandished the portrait of a child who would have died, according to them, for lack of care because his father, a veteran, could not pay the costs of his heart surgery. The protesters also blocked the road in front of the ministry, which slowed down traffic in the Sanayeh neighborhood.
• "If our demands are not heard at the cabinet [meeting to be held Thursday morning], we will escalate and this may impact the holding of the elections, or even prevent it," they warned, according to statements reported by the state-run National News Agency.
• Lebanon is going through the worst economic and financial crisis in its contemporary history, characterized by a sharp depreciation of the lira, which has lost more than 90 percent of its value in the last two years. Retired military and police officers regularly demonstrate to protest against the deterioration of their living conditions.