Thousands of people poured into a major square in downtown Beirut Saturday amid tight security, in the largest of the demonstrations that began last week over garbage piling up in the streets of Beirut following the closure of a main landfill.

The government’s failure to resolve the crisis has evolved into wider protests against a political class that has dominated Lebanon since the end of the country’s civil war in 1990. Protesters carrying the white, red and green Lebanese flag filled up the square known as Martyrs’ Square.

At least two or three armored personnel carriers were deployed around the prime minister’s office. A man over a megaphone chanted: “Declare it a revolution!”

Two protests last weekend outside the prime minister’s office drew up to 20,000 people and were generally peaceful. But the rallies turned violent when security forces used batons, tear gas and water cannons to disperse groups of people who tried to break the security cordon around the prime minister’s office.

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