( dpa )- Dozens of Lebanese pro-Syrian opposition protestors took the streets of Beirut late Monday, burning tyres and blocking major roads to protest the frequent power cuts in the country.
Protestors riding on motorbikes set fire to rubbish dumps in the city and burned tyres blocking a major highway, prompting the army to intervene and open the roads by force.
Soldiers were seen chasing the protestors through streets where the residents are divided between Sunni and Shiite Muslims.
The protestors were chanting slogans denouncing the Western-backed government of Premier Fouad Seniora , and called for electricity to their areas to be restored.
The incident was criticised by members of the anti-Syrian ruling majority as "a way by the opposition to incite violence in the country and topple by force the government of Seniora ."
"There is a hidden plan behind such incidents , " said majority MP Wael Abu Faour . "It is clear someone wants to destabilize the country and incite violence in the streets of Beirut."
Lebanon's state-run power company Electricite Du Liban (EDL) has been a cause of concern for many Lebanese due to its poor service and financial losses. The firm constitutes a major problem for the state as well, having contributed significantly to Lebanon's national deficit.
Frequent power cuts remain the norm in Lebanon. The country's generating capacity has fallen behind demand levels: EDL's current output is around 1,250 megawatts (MW), while peak demand often hits 1,800 MW. EDL also lost 500 million dollars last year amid allegations of corruption.
Privatizing EDL has been on the state agenda for years, but has been held up for political reasons.
According to official sources, almost 60 per cent of EDL bills are not collected. In addition, close to 50 per cent of electricity generated by EDL is not even billed; it is estimated that tens of thousands of people receive free electricity by illegally tapping into power lines.
In the southern suburbs of Beirut - a stronghold of the Shiite movement Hezbollah - over 80 per cent of electricity consumers do not pay. Those who do not enjoy such political protection, on the other hand, are forced to pay heavily for power.