NEW: Lebanese army units were deployed Sunday in central Beirut, an army spokesman said
NEW: Violent clashes over the weekend in Beirut sent 49 to the hospital, Red Cross says
Uncollected garbage was tipping point for increasingly frustrated populace
Lebanese army units were deployed Sunday in central Beirut following violent street protests over garbage going uncollected, said Col. Joseph Moussalem, spokesman for the Lebanese Security Forces.
Red Cross Lebanon said 49 protesters and police officers were injured in Sunday’s protests in the Lebanese capital. Lebanese Red Cross spokesman George Kettaneh said 10% of the injuries were serious.
Moussalem said 31 Lebanese policemen had been injured, one of them critically, by rocks and firecrackers hurled by protesters. He acknowledged that a civilian had been critically injured, although the circumstances were unclear.
Long-simmering weariness over government dysfunction reached a boiling point in Lebanon over the weekend when violent clashes erupted because of garbage going uncollected in the streets of Beirut.
Several thousand took to the increasingly putrid streets of Riad El Solh Square in central Beirut, where a cacophonous scene of explosions, tear gas, flaming garbage and cannon-fired water unfolded Saturday and Sunday.
The Red Cross said on its official Twitter account that 16 people were transferred from the fracas to a hospital Sunday and 23 the day before.
The weekend protest was organized by a group calling itself “You Stink,” a moniker that has as much to do with the rotting garbage that is clogging the streets of Beirut as it does sentiment toward the leaders of the politically stagnant nation.
The paralysis caused by the in-fighting is all-encompassing, ranging from squabbles over basic needs such as trash collection to problems on a more global scale, such as being unable to elect a president.
“We are here today against sectarianism of the Lebanese government, our parliament of thieves that stole from the people’s pockets, forcing our youth to emigrate,” said one protester who only gave his first name, Mohammed, to CNN. “We are here to protest against lack of jobs, poverty and hunger. “
“This protest is about a government that can no longer sustain the basic needs of its people,” said another protester, Karma Hamady.
Hamady told CNN the movement spans deep divisions in the historically fractious country.
“This protest has truly unified everybody,” she said.
CNN’s Nick Paton Walsh and Raja Razek contributed to this report from Beirut; CNN’s Jonathan Mann and Mohammed Tawfeeq from Atlanta.