BEIRUT — Lebanese troops deployed Tuesday in different parts of the country to reopen roads and main thoroughfares closed by anti-government protesters. They faced resistance in some areas, leading to scuffles.
In most places, protesters withdrew peacefully as the troops moved in. But in Beirut’s northern suburb of Zouk Mosbeh, a scuffle broke out when some demonstrators refused to move away from the main highway linking Beirut with northern Lebanon.
Several protesters were detained by troops. One protester, an older man, fainted and was rushed away in an ambulance; the Lebanese Red Cross later said he was in stable condition.
Human-rights activist Wadih al-Asmar said dozens were detained during the scuffles north of Beirut.
Later Tuesday, Moody’s ratings agency downgraded the government of Lebanon’s issuer ratings to Caa2, saying it remains on review for downgrade. The agency said the downgrade reflects the increased likelihood of a debt rescheduling or other liability management exercise that may constitute a default. Moody’s downgraded Lebanon’s issuer ratings to Caa1 in January but had maintained it there after protests broke out on Oct. 17.
It estimates that Lebanon has a foreign exchange buffer of about $5 billion to $10 billion and that would likely to be used to service external debt payments.
Anti-government protesters have been holding demonstrations demanding an end to widespread corruption and mismanagement by the political class that has ruled the country for three decades. The protesters have paralyzed Lebanon by closing roads inside cities as well as major highways. The protesters rejected an economic overhaul plan, demanding deeper changes to the government and election laws.
“We are not defying the army but we want our demands to be met,” said hairdresser Elie Abdu, 29, in Zouk Mosbeh. “We want a technocrat government, we want the poor to have food and medical care.”
Print Headline: Troops, protesters clash in Lebanon