Fourth day of protests in Lebanon after Christian party quits government

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Protesters gathered in Beirut for a fourth consecutive day to rally against corruption and tax hikes on Sunday, a day after the resignation of a key Christian party shook the fragile coalition government of Prime Minister Saad Hariri.


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Men, women and children gathered in the Lebanese capital Beirut Sunday to protest corruption and tax hikes for a fourth day, after the resignation of a key Christian party rocked the country's fragile coalition government.

Demonstrations had flared on Thursday in response to a proposed $0.20-tax on calls via WhatsApp and other messaging services.

While the government quickly dropped the plans, the protests morphed into demands for a sweeping overhaul of Lebanon's political system, with grievances ranging from austerity measures to poor infrastructure.

Thousands rallied across the country on Saturday, chanting "revolution" or "the people demand the fall of the regime" — a common refrain of demonstrations in other parts of the Arab world.

The protests have been largely good-natured, with people singing or launching into traditional dabke dances on Saturday, while others played cards and smoked shisha into the early hours.

In Tripoli, Lebanon's traditionally conservative second city, the protests at points looked like a music festival, with a DJ pumping out dance music from loudspeakers.

On Sunday morning, volunteers were cleaning the streets near the parliament in Beirut while rubbish collectors righted upturned dumpsters.

The protests have also been marked by their diversity, drawing wide swathes of Lebanese society largely united on what they oppose — with many condemning the entire political class as thieves and criminals — but so far lack a clear set of demands.

Lebanon's political system was set up to balance power between the country's religious sects, including Christians, Sunni Muslims, Shiite Muslims and Druze.

Many current senior politicians came to prominence during the country's 15-year civil war that ended in 1990.

Beleaguered Sunni Prime Minister Saad Hariri had given his coalition partners until Monday evening to back key reforms.

But late Saturday, Samir Geagea, head of the Christian Lebanese Forces party, announced his ministers were quitting the government.

"We are now convinced that the governmenRead More – Source