The Latest: Lebanese group threaten to escalate protests

The Latest: Lebanese group threaten to escalate protests


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BEIRUT (AP) — Here are the latest developments regarding Lebanon's protest over the country's ongoing trash crisis (all times local):

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9:45 p.m.

Thousands of protesters have dispersed peacefully at the end of a huge rally during which they called for the resignation of a Cabinet minister within 72 hours.

A few hundred protesters stayed behind following Saturday's protest, part of ongoing rallies against the country's garbage crisis. A small group of masked youth were trying to break through barbed wire near the prime minister's office and pelting security forces with stones and plastic bottles.

However no major confrontations were recorded.

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7:15 p.m.

The main group behind the protests in Lebanon has called for the resignation of the Lebanese environment minister over the country's garbage crisis and says it is giving the government 72 hours to begin responding to its demands.

A spokeswoman for the "You Stink" group says the group will escalate its protest actions by Tuesday evening if the government does not respond. It also demanded that the interior minister be held responsible for police brutality against protesters last weekend.

In a speech before thousands of protesters in Beirut, Rasha Halabi said protesters will continue pressuring the government until the election of a president and a new parliament.

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6:30 p.m.

Thousands of protesters are marching in Beirut, blasting music, chanting and waving signs. One says, "I want the sectarian system to fail." Another reads, "Remove garbage from the street. They are the garbage. We are the street."

Organizers are lining up in a chain between sections of protesters. They said earlier Saturday that they are deploying 500 volunteers to coordinate with security forces and help prevent violence that marred rallies last weekend.

Protester Maya Mahfouz says people are fed up. The 28-year-old TV producer says, "We are making a point. For once, we won't be silent anymore."

She says there is a mix of hope and skepticism about whether the protests will change Lebanon's dysfunctional power-sharing political system and end government corruption. But she says at the very least, authorities can remove the garbage piled in the streets.

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5.35 p.m.

Thousands of people are gathering amid tight security in downtown Beirut, ahead of a major rally to protest government corruption and the country's dysfunctional political system.

At least two or three armored personnel carriers were deployed around the prime minister's office Saturday. A man over a megaphone chanted: "Declare it a revolution!"

Saturday's protest is expected to be the largest of demonstrations that began last week over garbage piling up in the streets of Beirut, following the closure of a main landfill. But the government's failure to resolve the crisis has evolved into wider protests against a political class that has dominated Lebanon since the end of the country's civil war in 1990.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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