Downtown Beirut businesses to sue government

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Friday, March 2, 2007

A district of downtown Beirut before the protest.

Businesses operating in downtown Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, are threatening to sue the government within the next two weeks, if it fails to resolve the current street protests being held by groups opposed to the government. Currently, about eighty shops had been forced to close down due to the protest.

Large numbers of people took part in the Hezbollah-led protests held since the beginning of December 2006, along with the security measures imposed by the Internal Security Forces, cut off downtown Beirut from the rest of Beirut, thus strangulating most businesses in the area.

Lawyers of affected firms have prepared a civil suit, and company owners and managers are now tabulating damage estimates, said Tony Salameh, chairman of Aishti, at a news conference Thursday at the Phoenicia InterContinental. He went on by saying that the Lebanese politicians are to be held responsible. He had also met with President Emile Lahoud and Prime Minister Fouad Siniora without achieving any tangible results.

Late last month, the Tourist Associations have pleaded with General Michel Aoun, one of the opposition leaders, to find a new site for the round-the-clock Hezbollah-led protest that has crippled downtown Beirut since the protest began.