1. Various of security forces deploying for demonstration
2. Demonstrators holding placards
3. Close-up of banners
4. Wide top shot of demonstration
5. Various of demonstration
6. Demonstrators shouting
7. Various of demonstration
8. SOUNDBITE (Arabic) Ghassan Ghosn, Lebanese labour union leader/protester:
"We are here today in order to tell the government that we will not accept its economic policies. We will not accept taxes and fees. We will not accept the contractual project."
9. Various of demonstrators shouting
10. Various of riot police
11. Wide of news conference at Lebanese Interior Ministry
12. SOUNDBITE (Arabic) Ahmed Fatfat, interim Lebanese Interior Minister:
"What I refute is the fact that they are refusing the project without coming up with another option. The second point is, we are saying this demonstration is political because we responded positively and immediately to the economic demands. The prime minister said we could stop discussing this project if the people don''t want the contracts of limited duration, and look for other options. Despite all this they insisted."
13. Wide pan top shot of demonstration, audio crowd chanting
Tens of thousands of workers, students and political activists marched through the Lebanese capital Beirut on Wednesday in a protest against the government''s economic policies.
The issue has turned into a litmus test of strength between the government and the opposition as well as pro and anti-Syrian factions.
Shouting for Prime Minister Fuad Saniora to resign, the demonstrators waved Lebanese and political party flags as they marched behind banners reading: "Our rights are a red line" and "No to tax increases."
The marchers were mostly Shiite Muslims, with some Christians, who are aligned with the anti-government, pro-Syrian camp, which includes the militant Islamic group, Hezbollah, a major participant in the protest.
The government deployed about 1,500 armed soldiers and an equal number of police with batons to prevent people disrupting the demonstration.
Troops were particularly anxious to seal off streets to Sunni Muslim neighbourhoods, whose inhabitants tend to take an anti-Syrian line.
Anti-Syrian politicians who support Saniora''s government claim the demonstration was inspired by Damascus and aimed at bringing down the Cabinet through street violence.
But the pro-Syrian parties which backed the demonstration say their target is the government''s economic reform plan, which includes raising taxes and slashing social benefits.
They say they are also demanding an end to government corruption and wasting of funds.
The protest was called by the public teachers'' unions who were seeking to force the government to withdraw its package of economic measures that is designed to cut the budget deficit and rein in public debt, now running at about 38 (b) billion US dollars.
Among other items, the plan would abolish the ceiling on petrol prices, which could mean price rises of 30 per cent, and raise the value added tax on goods and services to 12 per cent from the current 10 percent.
"We are here today in order to tell the government that we will not accept its economic policies. We will not accept taxes and fees," said Ghassan Ghosn, the head of a labour union who was participating in the demonstration.
Worker representatives were divided over the protest, with anti-Syrian forces calling on supporters to stay away from the demonstration.
Earlier talks between the labour unions and Saniora''s aides failed to bridge the differences, despite a government offer to withdraw a proposal that would have granted contracts of limited duration to civil servants.
Currently, state employees enjoy a job-for-life status, and the unions want the contract proposal to be scrapped.
At a news conference on Tuesday, the interim interior minister, Ahmed Fatfat, reiterated Saniora''s stance that the plan is open to negotiation and said there was no need to protest.
"We are saying this demonstration is political because we responded positively and immediately to the economic demands," he said.
He said those opposed the plan had suggested no alternative.
The demonstration came as Syrian-Lebanese relations are on the agenda at the U.N. Security Council, which is expected to press Syria to establish diplomatic ties with Lebanon and delineate their common border.
After the assassination of former Lebanese Premier Rafik Hariri last year, Syria was forced to withdraw its army from Lebanon, ending 29 years of political domination of the country, and anti-Syrian factions wrested control of parliament in elections last year.
A U.N. investigation has implicated Syrian officials in the assassination, but Damascus denied involvement.