The Lebanese army has enforced an 11-hour curfew across Lebanon to prevent Labour unions staging a general strike and holding anti-government demonstrations.
The General Federation of Labor Trade Unions had called for a day long strike and street demonstrations to demand a 76 percent salary increase and to protest at worsening living conditions
The first curfew imposed in Lebanon since the 1975-90 civil war.
Troops patrolled cities in strength on foot and in vehicles. In Beirut, groups of curfew breakers, apparently ordinary citizens, were halted by squads of troops. Army trucks were seen driving off with arrested people inside.
The General Federation of Labor Trade Unions, which represents Lebanon's 350-thousand-strong work force, had called for a day long strike and street demonstrations Thursday to press for a salary increase and a cancellation of the two-year-old government ban on demonstrations.
We want to strike we want to demonstrate peacefully without weapons we have told all our men to march and demand without any weapons .. The army is not obliged to obey illegal orders, these orders are illegal. I consider the Prime Minister as being traitor to the Constitution.
SUPER CAPTION: Henry Sfeir, TV station owner and anti-government
But when the army ordered the curfew, which took effect at 3 a-m (0100 GMT), the federation backed off and called on unionists to abandon demonstration plans.
After daybreak, Beirut appeared like a ghost town.
Schools, shops, banks and sidewalk cafes were all shuttered. A few motorists ventured out in streets, normally jammed by bumper-to-bumper traffic, as most of the capital's 1.2 million people remained indoors.
Soldiers set up checkpoints in the city and its suburbs, stopping cars and asking commuters for their identity cards.
It was the first time that the army has taken such action since February 1984, when it ordered a curfew to halt street battles with Muslim militias.
After the end of civil war, the Lebanese army had grown to a 55-thousand-strong force. It has to a large degree restored law and order to most parts of the country.
But the economic situation leaves much to be desired: prices for basic commodities in Lebanon have more than tripled over the last three and a half years, and industries are complaining of stagnation.
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