Anti-government protesters stand next to fist at Martyrs Square, in Beirut. AP
Lebanon marks the first anniversary on Saturday of a non-sectarian protest movement that has rocked the political elite but has yet to achieve its goal of sweeping reform.
A whirlwind of hope and despair has gripped the country in the year since protests began with an economic crisis and a devastating August 4 port explosion pushing Lebanon deeper into decay.
Two governments have resigned since the movement started but the country's barons, many of them warlords from the 1975-90 civil war, remain firmly in power despite international as well as domestic pressure for change.
Lebanese activists erect a metalic monument with 'October 17' written on it in Arabic, in Beirut. AFP
Demonstrators plan to march from the main Beirut protest camp towards the port — the site of a devastating explosion, which has been widely blamed on the alleged corruption and incompetence of the hereditary elite.
There they will hold a candlelit vigil near ground zero at 6:07 pm (1507 GMT), the precise time when a huge stockpile of ammonium nitrate fertiliser exploded, killing more than 200 people and devastating swathes of the capital.
Activists have installed a statue at the site to mark the anniversary of their October 17 "revolution".
"We still don't recognise" our political leaders as legitimate, said one prominent protester, who gave her name only as Melissa.
"We are still on the street... standing together in the face of a corrupt government," the 42-year-old said.
Hundreds of retired army officers burned tires blocking main highways into Lebanon’s capital on Thursday to protest cuts to their benefits as part of the 2019 draft budget.
Retired Lebanese soldiers blockaded the central bank on Monday to warn the government against curbing their benefits in an escalation of demonstrations and strikes against plans to cut state spending.
Rampant corruption has also eroded the country's infrastructure and basic services.
A video of a popular children's song in Lebanon has gone viral on social media after protesters in Beirut spontaneously sang the hit number to calm a toddler caught in the midst of noisy demonstrations. The boy has watched the full performance wide-eyed.
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