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Lebanese MPs hold 'makeshift parliament session' as protests re-kindle

Lebanon's protest movement broke out in October 2019 [AFP]

Date of publication: 21 April, 2020

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As lawmakers met for the first time since the country went into lockdown in mid-March, protesters defiantly assembled in convoys in Beirut's Downtown.
Lebanese officials on Tuesday held the first parliamentary session outside of the parliament building in years, as protesters returned to the streets amid a coronavirus lockdown.

The lawmakers convened at the UNESCO palace theatre in order to observe social-distancing measures, according to a report by Lebanese media outlet The Daily Star.

The three-day legislative session will tackle 35 drafted laws, including a controversial amnesty law, amid mounting global fears over potential mass coronavirus outbreaks in prisons. 

The debated amnesty law, according to a Human Rights Watch report last year, would also grant pardon to public officials accused of misconduct. 

"#Lebanon parliament is going into session today, but there are problematic bills on their agenda, including the amnesty law," Human Rights Watch Lebanon researcher, Aya Majzoub said in a tweet on Tuesday.

Lebanon has a total of 677 confirmed coronavirus infections [AFP]
As lawmakers met for the first time since the country went into lockdown in mid-March, protesters defiantly assembled in convoys in Beirut's Downtown – what used to be the centre of nationwide protests that swept the country last October.

Demonstrations had recently seen a lull after the lockdown went into effect, banning all non-essential activities and public gatherings. Authorities have since seen to the removal of protest camps from key locations.

Fed up with the flagging economic situation, protesters regained momentum and headed to the UNESCO theatre building, where parliament convened.

"People are starving. The revolution is returning and has returned," one protester told The Daily Star.

Activists have reportedly called on protesters to gather in the square, but also adhere to social distancing measures by remaining in their vehicles.

Read also: Lebanon preparing to grant thousands of prisoners amnesty amid coronavirus pandemic

While a handful of protesters defied coronavirus distancing, over a hundred protesters remained in their cars.

Lebanon has recorded 677 cases of covid-19, and 21 deaths resulting from infection, while the virus has infected nearly 2.5 million globally. According to Lebanon's health ministry on Tuesday, no new cases were recorded in the last 24 hours for the first time since the start of the outbreak in the country. 

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