World

Violence flares again in Beirut

By AAP Newswire

Clashes have erupted between anti-government protesters and police in the Lebanese capital as the country remains in the grip of a months-long demonstrations amid a deepening economic crisis.

The violence broke out on Saturday after dozens of protesters tried to reach the government palace in central Beirut, witnesses said.

The demonstrators were protesting a new cabinet announced earlier this week, they added.

Some demonstrators hurled stones at police on guard in the area and were able to remove iron barbed wires a few metres away from the palace, the witnesses said.

The anti-riot police responded by using water cannon to disperse the protesters.

There were no immediate reports of casualties.

Protesters have taken to Lebanon's streets on a regular basis since October 17, demanding the departure of the country's ruling elite, accusing them of mismanagement and corruption. The protests led to the resignation of Saad Hariri as prime minister.

On Tuesday, Lebanese prime minister-designate Hassan Diab formed a long-delayed government and pledged to work to restore the public's trust.

Diab, supported by the Iran-backed Hezbollah movement and its main ally President Michel Aoun, was designated to form a government on December 19 amid mass protests nationwide.

Diab, an ex-education minister, has promised to meet the demands of demonstrators, who have been calling for an independent judiciary, a revival of the country's ailing economy and actions to reclaim embezzled state funds.

Lebanon is under pressure from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to impose austerity measures in return for financial support.