It took three months for the ruling class in Lebanon to form a new government - following the resignation of PM Saad Hariri - and when it did so on Tuesday, roads were blocked and eyebrows were raised.
The new cabinet now includes 20 ministers, a decrease from the previous 30, all of whom were painted as "experts and technocrats." One of the newly announced ministers, Ramzi Mcharffieh, is an orthopedic surgeon. And no he won't be heading the health ministry as one would maybe assume; he's actually now the head of the Social Affairs and Tourism Ministry.
So much for "expert," right? And he's not the only one to refute the so-called technocratic claims.
As soon as the news broke, protesters took to the streets and blocked several roads in Beirut and across Lebanon in rejection of the new government. This continued on till Wednesday morning; security forces have since reopened some of the major highways that were blocked.
In the meantime, online Twitter users launched an Arabic hashtag titled "We just want a country" to voice their demands. They really aren't asking for much. They just want a decent country that can secure their basic needs. Electricity, water, education, access to one's money ... and so on and so forth.
"Is it a lot to ask for a government that respects people?"
"We are not just a number in your land"
"My dear leader,
Don't pull the Muslim/Christian sectarian card just to have us living in fear over a civil war. It's time you understand that Lebanese people are aware, we are human and not just a number in your land. We are Lebanese citizens, not just a number used to intimidate your opponents.
We are one people who just want human dignity."
"Yes, we just want a country ... we aren't asking for a miracle"
"If we continue this way, the country will be destroyed"
"We are tired
We are bored
We have had enough. Enough with bargains over the country, enough with splitting the shares, enough theft. We used to say the country is collapsing, now we say the country is gone. If we continue this way, the country will be destroyed. Have mercy on us."
"We just want a country whose government is fair to its people"
"We want a country like the one they promised us years ago ... with 24/7 electricity"
"We want a country that is not governed by its thieves"
"We want a country that we can live in ... and not die in front of its hospital doors"
"We want a country where there is no difference between the rich and the poor"
"We want a country where there is no difference between the rich and the poor, between a manager and worker ... a country we can genuinely live in, with love and kindness"
"We want a country that doesn't drown after every rainfall"
"We want a country that doesn't encourage us to leave"
The heartbreaking truth: "We live in a country where our biggest achievement is to leave it"
On Oct. 17, 2019, Lebanese revolutionaries took to the streets to protest against the country's political class and demand concrete change and serious reform, particularly when it comes to basic services such as electricity, medical services, proper infrastructure, and employment opportunities.
Over the past couple of months, they have risked their lives and well-being in the fight for a better socio-economic future. But they're not happy with the government's so-called "changes" and so the battle continues.