Lebanon protesters storm government building, demand minister resigns

Lebanon protesters storm government building, demand minister resigns
2 min read
01 September, 2015
Dozens of activists occupied part of the Lebanese environment ministry demanding the resignation of the minister, as the three-day ultimatum set by protesters expires.

Several dozen activists occupied part of the Lebanese environment ministry in central Beirut on Tuesday, staging a sit-in to demand the environment minister resign, an employee and protesters said.

The move came hours ahead of a deadline set by the campaign for the government to respond to their demands after a massive weekend demonstration.

"They refused to listen to our demands that we gave them 72 hours to fulfil," activist Lucien Bourjeily told AFP.

"They announced clearly that the minister will not resign. We are asking for the resignation of the minister and won't leave until that happens."

The "You Stink" campaign began in response to a trash crisis that erupted with the closure of Lebanon's largest landfill in mid-July.

But it has evolved into an outlet for deep-seated frustrations over Lebanon's crumbling infrastructure and stagnant political class.

Last week, the campaign set out four key demands: the resignation of Environment Minister Mohammed Mashnuq, new parliamentary elections, the devolvement of trash collection duties to municipalities and accountability for violence against protesters.

The group said Saturday after a massive protest that the government had 72 hours to respond to its demands, with that deadline set to expire on Tuesday night.

"(We began early) for the element of surprise," Bourjeily said of the sit-in.

He said additional measures could yet be announced later Tuesday.

"It will depend on the response of the government."

The group of protesters sat cross-legged in a hallway outside the minister's office, waving Lebanese flags and chanting "Out, out out! Mashnuq, get out!"

An employee at the ministry, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed that Mashnuq was in his office.

She said several security forces were attempting to negotiate with protesters to convince them to leave the building, which is in downtown Beirut.