BEIRUT – Lebanon’s government won the Parliament’s vote of confidence on Tuesday while hundreds of protesters were injured during clashes with security forces in front of the Parliament building in central Beirut.
“The new Cabinet led by Prime Minister Dr. Hassan Diab's won the Parliament's vote of confidence, with 63 deputies voting in his favor, 20 withholding and one abstaining,” the state-run NNA news agency said.
The rest of the Parliament’s 128 members boycotted the session, although the quorum was still achieved.
At the beginning of the session, Diab read the ministerial declaration that was approved.
“This statement is based on an action program that includes an emergency rescue plan and measures that are articulated in a judicial, legislative and anti-corruption reform,” Diab said.
Anti-government protests have swept the country since Oct. 17. Demonstrators denounce the corruption that turned Lebanon into one of the most indebted countries in the world.
In the wake of protests, Saad Hariri resigned as prime minister and was replaced in December by Diab, backed by the Hezbollah Shiite group.
A month later, Diab named a technocratic government comprised of 20 ministers, including six women, a first in the country.
Although the administration started peacefully, protests have become more violent since December.
On Tuesday, protesters tried to stop lawmakers from reaching the Parliament building to cast a vote of confidence in the new cabinet, prompting clashes with security forces.
At least 45 people have been taken to hospitals while 328 were tended to at the scene, the Lebanese Red Cross reported.
Salim Saade, legislator and a member of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, was taken to hospital after he was beaten when protesters tried to block the access to the building, as he confirmed on his Twitter account.
After being discharged from the hospital, he returned to Parliament, where he delivered a speech and voted.
The new government faces difficult times, having to look for solutions to Lebanon's worst economic crisis since the end of the civil war (1975-1990).
Since the protests started, the economy has been progressively deteriorating and the Lebanese pound has lost its value against the US dollar, which is widely used in Lebanon.
Lebanese people cannot withdraw more than $300 per week because of new restrictions imposed by entities due to a lack of regulation by the Central Bank.