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Protesters demand ouster of corrupt politicians, accountability in Lebanon

BEIRUT, Lebanon: Thousands of protesters have demanded the fall of the government after Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s resignation and said this was merely an initial victory in a long-term battle.

Protesters said Hariri was part of the problem but there was need do more to end crisis in the country.

For many demonstrators in the capital, the news of Hariri’s resignation was an important boost in their nearly two-week protest movement following a day of street brawls instigated by supporters of Hezbollah and the Amal Movement party.

Security forces fired tear gas, rubber bullets and beat protesters and destroyed protest encampments in central Beirut before Hariri’s televised address.

Lebanese soldiers and security officials urged protesters to open blocked roads on Wednesday so life could return to normal, after 13 days demonstrations paralyzed the country and forced the prime minister to resign.

Troops cleared one major route north of Beirut after briefly scuffling with demonstrators in the morning. A group of soldiers tried to pick up a vehicle blocking the highway before it drove off, al-Jadeed television footage showed.At the Ring Bridge in the centre of the capital, a security officer tried to persuade crowds to clear the way to nearby hospitals.

On a nearby road leading to Riad al-Solh square, Saba, a 21-year old event planner, was painting Lebanese flags on the faces of passersby. “He should have resigned earlier, but better late than never – and we got what we wanted,” she said.

Protesters said Hariri’s resignation by no means satisfied them and they want to get back the money politicians have stolen from the people.

As evening fell, hundreds of Lebanese in Riad al-Solh stood together for the national anthem. Many hugged. One woman stood still, tears rolling from her eyes.

Outside Beirut, thousands of people took to the streets of northern Tripoli to celebrate the news. Hundreds of others were out in towns and villages across the country.