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Conflict Incident Report
FPM holds massive demonstration in Martyrs' Square to pressure government
Thousands of Free Patriotic Movement supporters gathered in Martyrs' Square in Downtown Beirut Friday for a massive demonstration aiming at exerting political pressure on the government to accede to the party's demands.
Hundreds of cars converged on the capital’s Central District, carrying supporters waving the party’s orange flags. A large stage, screen and sound system had been placed in the square in preparation for the anticipated day.
The event included a number of performances by artists including Zein el-Omr, who made a passionate speech hailing the group's founder Michel Aoun, saying he does not only represent "a Zai'm (leader), but also a nation, a people."
Demonstrators carried pictures of Aoun and banners praising him.
“At your service, oh General,” one large banner read.
“We dream of a free president, a legal parliament that does not extend its own term, deputies that represent the people and a judiciary that protects its nation," said Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, who has recently won the party's presidency by acclamation, using a rhetoric inspired by Martin Luther King's famous "I have a dream" speech.
“We want a just media, around the clock electricity and water, transportation systems, telecommunication services and social security for seniors.”
“Our dream will win over the nightmares,” Bassil added addressing the crowds, emphasizing that his party “will not alienate Muslims, but will also not accept the alienation of Christians.”
He promised that he would seek the “return of all the refugees and displaced people to their homelands, so that Lebanon survives.”
“The FPM is gathered today in Martyrs' Square, but we will soon exhort its supporters to join us in the popular square of Baabda,” he said, implying that his party would soon be celebrating the appointment party leader Michel Aoun as president.
Aoun also made a brief speech from his residence in Rabieh that was televised for the crowd.
“I am proud of you today, like I was yesterday and I will be tomorrow,” Aoun told protesters, describing the demonstration as a “gathering of glory.”
“I hope this will be the beginning of [a pathway toward] reforming our country and bringing it back to its glorious past.”