More than 200 wounded in Lebanon clashes_1


More than 200 people have been wounded in clashes between Lebanese anti-government protesters, army personnel and Internal Security Forces in central Beirut.

The violence erupted on Tuesday as parliament met for a vote of confidence in the new government.

"One hundred and seventy-five people were treated on the ground and 26 were transferred to hospital so far," the head of the Lebanese Red Cross, George Kettnah said.

Lebanon has been hit by protests since October 17, leading to the resignation of Saad Hariri as prime minister almost two weeks later.

Hundreds of protesters earlier vowed to stop MPs reaching parliament to hold the confidence session, as they reject Prime Minister Hassan Diab's cabinet.

Protesters carried placards reading "No Confidence," putting their rejection of Diab and his 20-member cabinet on full display.

Demonstrators have called on all Lebanese to march towards the parliament to prevent MPs reaching the building.

Some 65 out of the 128 managed nonetheless to make it to the parliament and secure a quorum.

Protesters pelted some with eggs and water bottles as they headed to the central district of the capital.

"This government is trying to silence the people who openly do not want it," one protester told a local television channel.

"We refuse such a cabinet which they say is made of experts but in reality they all belong to the corrupt ruling class," another protester said.

Hundreds of Lebanese soldiers and anti-riot police were deployed around parliament to thwart attempts to obstruct the two-day session, in which they will also discuss the government's policy agenda.

Demonstrators managed to remove a large cement blocks, prompting anti-riot police to confront them with tear gas and water cannon.

High cement walls were erected late on Monday to block the road leading to Nijmeh Square, where parliament is located.

In a statement, the Lebanese Internal Security Forces called on protesters to stage peaceful street demonstrations and to stay away from the walls and barriers for their own safety.

On January 21, Diab formed a new 20-member government that aims to tackle the worst economic crisis in the country since the civil war 1975-90.

The protesters have rejected Diab because he was supported by the Iran-backed Hezbollah movement and its main ally President Michel Aoun.

-with AAP