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Hundreds of Lebanese gathered outside Beirut's central government building Saturday to reject the newly formed Cabinet and mark 100 days of anti-government demonstrations. Protesters breached tight security around the building, removing a metal gate and barbed wire and prompting security forces to respond with water cannon and tear gas.


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The protesters say the new Cabinet formed this week represents a corrupt long-serving political class they have been protesting against since October.

Dozens pulled at barbed wire and a metal gate erected between them and security forces guarding the central government building, known as the Serail. They hurled stones and firecrackers at security forces, who used water cannon and tear gas to push rioters back. Hundreds of other protesters filled the street leading to the building.

Blast walls and large cement blocks had been erected behind the barbed wire and soldiers stood on alert a few meters (yards) away. Some protesters scaled those walls and taunted the soldiers. One waved a large Lebanese flag.

After nearly an hour of clashes, protesters managed to breach the metal gate further. Security forces fired tear gas and then chased the protesters out of the area with intense volleys of tear gas.

A man carrying a toddler stood in front of security forces with a raised hand, screaming at security and protesters alike to stop. But he was sprayed with a stream of water, spurring a journalist to run and grab the shaken little girl from his arms and sprint away. The clashes stopped briefly.

Central Beirut has metamorphosed into a security zone as riot police and soldiers have been heavily deployed, barricades and checkpoints erected. Security measures prevented protesters from reaching the parliament area down the street, which has become a flash point in recent days for confrontations between protesters and security. Many shops in the area were installing metal sheets over their windows after clashes left some damaged.

The crowd congregated in central Beirut after a day of peaceful marches through different areas of the capital dubbed “No Confidence.” Hundreds of protesters urged people to join their rallies.

After a new government was formed Tuesday, security forces installed new barriers and metal gates around official buildings and beefed up their presence.

After more than 100 days of nationwide protesting against the country's political class, Lebanese are divided over whether to continue protesting or give the new Cabinet a chance as the country faces its most dire economic crisis in decades.

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