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Lebanese anti-government protesters scuffle with army

Lebanese army soldiers stand guard as supporters of Christian politician Michel Aoun chant slogans and hold flags of the Free Patriotic Movement, during a demonstration near the government headquarters in downtown Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, July 9, 2015. Lebanese supporters of Aoun later clashed with the troops who were blocking them from reaching the prime ministry where a cabinet session is underway. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

BEIRUT (AP) — Dozens of Lebanese supporters of a Christian politician scuffled on Thursday with troops who blocked them from reaching the government building in downtown Beirut where a Cabinet session was underway.

Leader of the Free Patriotic Movement Michel Aoun had called for the demonstrations following a dispute over security appointments in the government.

Aoun, a former army commander, insists that the government should make the appointments a priority while government officials have said only regular items would be on the agenda. The meeting ended later with an agreement to postpone the discussion until July 23.

Earlier, Lebanese soldiers beat back dozens of protesters with batons as they tried to break a security barrier, triggering hours-long skirmishes at the entrance to the posh Beirut souks in the downtown. The army said seven soldiers were being treated for various injuries while the FPM, Aoun’s party, said that around 17 protesters were hurt.

Lebanon has been without a president since May 2014 and Aoun has accused Prime Minister Tammam Salam of taking advantage of the presidential vacuum and running the country as if he were president.

Lebanon is the only country in the Arab world with a unique power-sharing system under which the president must be a Maronite Christian, the prime minister a Sunni Muslim and the parliament speaker a Shiite Muslim.

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