BEIRUT — At the call of several collectives from the popular protest movement, a few dozen people began to gather Monday in Martyrs' Square in Downtown Beirut on the third anniversary of the Oct. 17, 2019 uprising in Lebanon, broadly referred to as the "thawra" ("revolution" in Arabic).
According to L'Orient-Le Jour's journalist on the ground, revolutionary chants were blasted through speakers as the demonstrators assembled. A light military and police deployment was also noticed on the ground.
At around 5:30 p.m., the demonstrators will observe a minute of silence in memory of the "martyrs of October 17," and then head toward Parliament, located in the nearby Nejmeh Square, at around 6 p.m.
The same groups have also announced a second demonstration for this Thursday, scheduled to coincide with the country's MPs gathering for a third parliamentary session devoted to electing Lebanon's next president.
In a joint statement issued Sunday and reported by the National News Agency, the collectives urged "the Lebanese people to meet them on Thursday, Oct. 20, 2022, in an effort "to put an end to the show given by the ruling class during these sterile sessions that only lead to anarchy and collapse, and to force the election of a president who will give back Lebanon its brilliance and rank."
MPs have thus far twice failed to elect a successor to President Michel Aoun due to the lack of consensus between the political groups in Parliament. Aoun's mandate expires on Oct. 31.
On Oct. 17, 2019, unprecedented mass protests broke out in Lebanon, denouncing the ruling political class. Demonstrations throughout the territory were ongoing for several months, and many clashes erupted between protesters and security forces.
The demonstrations lost momentum in early 2020, and during the commemoration of the uprising in last year, turnout was rather low in the capital.
Today, the country remains in economic collapse and 80 percent of the population now lives in poverty, according to UN figures.
Additional reporting by Lyana Alameddine