Lebanon's army and police deployed heavily in the capital to prevent protesters from approaching parliament and trying to disrupt a session scheduled for later in the day as banks reopened after a weeklong closure.
The legislature on Tuesday is set to discuss a series of anti-graft bills as well as a general amnesty law that protesters say will extend to those who committed financial and environmental crimes, offenses they accuse the political elites of carrying out. Anti-riot police and the army cordoned off entrances leading to Nejmeh Square in Beirut to prevent people from approaching parliament and allow lawmakers to enter the session.
Adding to the unease, dozens of people were standing outside banks in Beirut and elsewhere, with at least one security personnel stationed nearby to prevent a repeat of confrontations between employees and clients. Lenders have adopted a set of joint restrictions on the movement of capital to ward off financial chaos.
Prime Minister Saad Hariri stepped down late last month and demonstrators are demanding a government of technocrats to lead the country out of the crisis. Frustration has built, however, as President Michel Aoun has yet to set a date for parliamentary talks to name a new premier. Major political parties nominated a wealthy businessman to lead the cabinet but he withdrew his candidacy after a backlash from protesters.
A member of Hezbollah's parliamentary bloc, Ali Ammar, walked up to parliament but was heckled and quickly confronted by protesters. Police were removing metal barricades they had set up to allow some vehicles belonging to lawmakers to make their way into the session.
A group of lawmakers representing the caretaker prime minister's bloc, the Christian Lebanese Forces and the Kataeb Party, as well as some independents said they would only appear to elect legislative committees but would not attend the broader session.
"They shouldn't go in because they need to focus on something else," said one of the protesters, who didn't give his name. "We need a government of technocrats, not a parliament session," he said as he stood outside the entrance of downtown Beirut facing security forces and wearing the Lebanese flag as a scarf.