BEIRUT — Hundreds of army retirees, civil servants, “old rent” property owners and public school teachers protested in downtown Beirut Tuesday ahead of a planned cabinet meeting expected to discuss worker salaries.
Protesters demanded their salaries be dollarized, that the government cover their transportation allowance and that they receive medical coverage.
Cabinet was set to convene Tuesday afternoon.
Ex-army officer George Nader told L’Orient Today “we demand that 10 percent of our pensions be paid in dollars and complete medical coverage.”
According to the state-run National News Agency, protesters tried to cut barbed wire near the Grand Serail.
A L'Orient Today reporter saw police firing teargas against demonstrators.
At least one of the army retirees was injured as the protesters were trying to break into the Grand Serail.
Former MP and ex-army officer Chamel Roukoz told local media that “if the demands of citizens are not heard, the situation will escalate into something bigger,” adding that the only way forward would be through fair salaries and pensions for employees and retirees.
Protesters held up several signs saying “we protected the country at the time of war, we have the right to live in dignity” and “we are the ones who built and you are the ones who stole, you thieves.”
On March 30, hundreds of army retirees demonstrated in Beirut asking for better living conditions and clashing with security forces.
The Lebanese lira has lost more than 90 percent of its value against the dollar over the last three years, plunging more than three-quarters of the Lebanese population below the poverty line.
'Old rent law'
Earlier in the morning, dozens of owners of properties that are still subject to the “old rent law” protested in Riad al-Solh Square and threatened to go on a “tax disobedience” campaign if the law is not revised and rent is not increased, the state-run National News Agency reported.
The old rent law, introduced in July 1992 after the end of the civil war, froze all rental agreements signed before this date.
Meanwhile, without a president or fully empowered cabinet, Lebanese authorities are still stalling the reforms needed to stem the country's economic and financial collapse and receive a potential International Monetary Fund loan.
Reporting contributed by Mohammad Yassin