BEIRUT (Dispatches) – Lebanese protesters blocked main roads Wednesday, angered by what they viewed as the president ignoring their demands in nearly a month of rallies, and after a man was shot dead.
Hundreds marched towards the palace of President Michel Aoun in the town of Baabda outside the capital, where security forces laid coils of barbed wire across the access road.
Aoun had said on television the previous night that Lebanese who did not see any decent person in power should "emigrate" -- a comment that, despite the presidency scrambling to clarify it, immediately sent protesters onto the streets.
One man died of gunshot wounds overnight after the army opened fire to disperse protesters south of the capital, in the second such death since the start of the largely peaceful protests.
Activists blocked roads inside the capital from the morning, as they did the main highways connecting Beirut to the north and south of the country, with the smoke of burning tires blackening the air in several places.
Lebanon's unprecedented protest movement has since October 17 called for a complete overhaul of a system they charge is incapable of providing the most basic services and siphoning off state funds.
After the government stepped down on October 29, protesters demanded a fresh cabinet of experts. But Aoun in the interview argued that a government made up solely of technocrats would not be able to set policies and would not represent the people.
He criticized the street movement's lack of leadership, after previously saying he would be prepared to meet representatives to hear their demands.
The Lebanese Finance Ministry says the country’s national debt is hovering around $85 billion, which accounts for more than 150 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP).
More than 25 percent of the Lebanese live in poverty, according to the World Bank.