Amid the Energy Ministry's insistence on executing the high-voltage power lines project in Metn despite the residents' fierce objection over health and safety concerns, tensions rose on Wednesday as security forces resorted again to the use of to force against the protesting residents.
After blocking the road to Beit Mery as part of their ongoing protest against the project, residents of Mansourieh were once again confronted by security forces which prevented them from holding a march from the Saint Therese church to the location where EDL workers have initiated the installation works.
Several of the residents were injured as security forces opted for excessive use of force and fired live bullets.
Father Dany Frem, head of the Saint Therese diocese, hailed the Kataeb party for standing alongside the residents and advocating their cause "after they have been abandoned after the elections", wondering how a Maronite minister can turn a deaf ear to the stance of the Maronite patriarch.
“The protest shall carry on and we are still waiting for a solution to the issue. We are preparing for escalation in the coming hours and will remain in the street until our demands are met,” read a statement issued by the residents.
Kataeb MP Elias Hankache vowed to keep on standing firm against the forcible installation of high-voltage power lines, saying that the residents have now got an additional support from the Maronite Patriarchate.
The lawmaker warned that escalation steps will be taken in case the government fails to abandon its stubbornness and intransigence, saying that any dialogue in this matter must include the residents and seek a common ground away from coercion.
Hankache blamed "irresponsible" officials for the violence used to deal with the residents, adding that the problem lies in the ruling authority's obstinacy and haughtiness.
“Let them enforce their authority on other regions; the ones that are known to be out of their control,” Hankache said.
Kataeb politburo member and former Economy Minister, Alain Hakim, described the insistence on the project as a disobedience to the Maronite Patriarch’s statement which calls for appeasement and dialogue with the residents.
For his part, the Kataeb's Deputy-President Salim Sayegh called on the "Christian" Energy Minister Nada Boustany and the Free Patriotic Movement which claims to be the defender of the Christians' rights, to obey the Maronite Patriarchate in this matter.
“Even in a police state, the ministers do not treat citizens the way they did yesterday with the residents of Mansourieh,” he said, adding that people have the right to live in dignity and to resist all scheme to force them out of their region.
“Why do they belittle one area while apply the highest standards of respect in others?” Sayegh asked.