Demonstrators pull against barbed wire in Beirut and ignite small fires, in protests that have expanded to reflect anger at widely-perceived corruption and incompetence in the political class. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: Thousands of protesters waving Lebanese flags and chanting "revolution" took to the streets of Beirut on Saturday (August 29) for an unprecedented mobilisation against sectarian politicians they say are incompetent and corrupt. The "You Stink" protest campaign, ignited by a waste crisis, has widened to reflect anger at widely-perceived graft in the political class and the state's failure to provide basic services. It is seen as the biggest protest movement in Lebanon's history organised independently of the sectarian parties that dominate politics. Protesters mobilised after the government failed to agree on trash disposal, leaving piles of refuse stinking in the summer sun. Protesters say the crisis reflects the rot inside Lebanon's political system. Similar protests descended into violence last weekend and Prime Minister Tammam Salam threatened to resign, a move that could tip the state struggling with political deadlock and spillover from Syria into deeper turmoil. Protesters, including families and people of all ages, marched, played music and sang as they protested in areas around Martyrs' Square, the scene of mass demonstrations in 2005 after the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri. By nightfall the area took on the atmosphere of a huge street party as soldiers watched the crowds from newly-erected barricades. Campaigners are calling for the environment minister to resign, for snap parliamentary elections and a resolution to the garbage crisis. They want better public services in a country with daily electricity cuts and summer water shortages.