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Lebanese security fire water cannons at protesters

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Lebanese security fire water cannons at protesters

A demonstrator holds the Lebanese flag during a protest against the newly formed government outside the government headquarters in downtown Beirut

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Lebanese security forces on Saturday fired water cannons and tear gas at anti-government protesters trying to breach a security barricade outside government headquarters in central Beirut.

Some protesters among the hundreds who had gathered for a planned march managed to open a metal gate blocking their way but were pushed back.

After Lebanon's Internal Security Forces used Twitter to warn peaceful demonstrators to leave for their own safety, riot police fanned out to disperse dozens of remaining protesters.

"We want the demonstrations to be peaceful so they can prevail," said Abdo Saadeh, criticizing a government formed this week as a "masquerade" by a political elite that protesters blame for driving the country towards collapse.

The Iranian-backed group Hezbollah and its allies formed a cabinet of technocrats nominated by their parties under Prime Minister Hassan Diab, who was tapped for the job after protests forced former premier Saad al-Hariri to resign on Oct. 29.

"We came here today because there is no trust in this government," Saadeh said. "They brought their cronies, their consultants."

The new government must tackle a financial emergency that has sunk the currency, pushed up prices and driven banks to impose capital controls. Security conditions have deteriorated, with hundreds injured last weekend in clashes between demonstrators and security forces.

"We want a government of independents, not parties," said demonstrator Reema Ajouz. "Independents can save the country. With the politicians we have we are headed to the precipice."


(Reporting by Reuters TV team; Writing by Ghaida Ghantous; Editing by Giles Elgood)