Lebanese authorities begin removing barriers around parliament after elections


Beirut (Reuters) – Lebanese security forces, after elections last week, on Monday began removing concrete barriers and easing security measures around the country’s parliament building that were put in place at the outbreak of massive anti-government protests in 2019.

The move follows May 15 elections that saw powerful Iran-backed Hezbollah’s coalition lose their parliamentary majority and about a dozen reform-minded newcomers enter the 128-member legislature – including some who participated in the protest movement.

A number of the new MPs had called for the restrictions to be eased before they attend the first session of the new parliament, which has yet to be scheduled.

“There are no walls that rise between the representatives of the nation and citizens,” newcomer MP Elias Jradi wrote on Twitter on Monday morning.

From in front of one of the main walls blocking access to parliament, painted in red and white stripes like the Lebanese flag, Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi said the easing of restrictions was his duty following the results of the polls.

“The people who were protesting here are now inside… Some of them are in the parliament,” he said.

A small crowd interrupted his news conference with chants of “Down with the thugs’ rule” and “Revolution,” slogans popularized during the demonstrations against decades of corruption and policies that led the country into one of the world’s-worst economic collapses.

The work to ease the security measures would be completed before the next parliament session is held, a statement from House Speaker Nabih Berri’s office said.

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