EFEBy Isaac J. Martin and Kathy Seleme Beirut

Hundreds of protesters on Sunday gathered in central Beirut after a month of anti-government protests, with women in the forefront of the rallies calling for the departure of the ruling class.

Women took center stage to chant slogans against the government, which is based on a system according representation to the 18 religious communities recognized since the end of Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war.

At Beirut's Martyrs' Square, which has become Ground Zero for the protests, seven girls from across Lebanon talked with EFE while taking a break before joining Sunday's protest, which is usually massive.

"It is simple, we want one outcome for this revolution: wipe out the whole system," Rima Aoun, a feminist who takes part in different rallies around the country, told EFE.

By the system she means "patriarchy, capitalism, racism, the whole system that is sectarian; a snobbish class system that does not accept those who do not have Lebanese nationality."

At one point, a group of protesters started to discuss the problems the country has been struggling with since the war, contending that a new government will be the answer.

"What we see today about women in the revolution is the result of years of struggle, of effort. They have taken over public spaces to join this revolution," Nour Ladki, another member of the group, told EFE.

The appointment of Raya Hassan as the first female interior minister in the Arab world has not convinced these girls that things are getting better.

"Just because she's a woman doesn't mean things will change, she follows the patriarchy also represented in her political party," Future Movement, led by former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Ladki said.

"We definitely want more women in the government, but they should be qualified and represent the country, a new system, not a patriarchal one," she added.

The country has been paralyzed since the protests first erupted over plans to impose taxes on phone calls via free texting apps like Whatsapp, the closure of banks and other institutions.

Although the government reversed course on those plans, the protests have gained momentum.

During the first couple of weeks of protests, banks were shut down due to the rallies.

After being open for a few days, the banking sector employees went on a strike that still going on.

The chairman of Lebanon's Federation of Syndicates of Bank Employees, George al-Hajj, told EFE that a meeting with the Association of Banks is to be held on Monday to find out whether banks will resume operations the next day.

"We are waiting for an answer to two of our demands: protection measures and how we should deal with customers," Al-Hajj said.

Recently, customers have been aggressive with the banks' employees in the wake of the restrictions imposed on cash withdrawals, especially in US dollars.

Although Lebanon has its own currency, the Lebanese pound, most products in the Arab country are imported and paid for in US dollars.

Besides its economic difficulties, Lebanon currently has no prime minister and President Michel Aoun has yet to start parliamentary consultations to name a Sunni successor for Hariri.

Hariri accused the Free Patriotic Movement, led by Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil and founded Bassil's father-in-law, Aoun, of preventing the formation of a government.

"The maneuvers and leaking of information by the Movement are irresponsible in the context of the huge national crisis in our country," Hariri said, according to a statement from his press office.

He referred to local media leaks of the name of the man being considered to replace Hariri, Mohamed Safadi, a tycoon linked to the Saudi royal family and who Sunday morning said in a statement that he is not a candidate for the post.

If the Movement had not adopted "that attitude, the government would have been formed and the dangerous national crisis would have begun to be resolved," Hariri added.

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