Why has Lebanon’s prime minister resigned?
Saad Hariri stands down after failing to quell the anger of protesters
Lebanon has been plunged into deeper uncertainty after Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced his resignation.
Speaking after clashes at the mass protests that have called for an end to corruption and an overhaul of the ruling class, Hariri said he wanted to make a “positive shock” that served “the country’s dignity and safety”.
In a televised address, the prime minister said he had reached a “dead end,” adding: “For 13 days, the Lebanese people have waited for a decision for a political solution that stops the deterioration. And I have tried, during this period, to find a way out, through which to listen to the voice of the people.”
He has spent the last two weeks attempting unsuccessfully to placate demonstrators by offering reforms, including the scrapping of cabinet positions, and spending reforms. However, his moves failed to stem the tide of anger in a country that has one of the highest debt levels in the world, The Guardian says.
His resignation brings to an end the unity government that the three-time prime minister has led for less than two years.
Protesters in downtown Beirut cheered as Hariri announced his departure. However, many said that the prime minister’s move will not dampen their uprising. “Saad Hariri is only the beginning,” one told a local TV channel.
The protests “began against now-scrapped plans to tax WhatsApp calls”, The BBC says, but “quickly widened to target political corruption and economic turmoil”.
The militant group, Hezbollah, which has dominated the ruling coalition has taken a hard line against the protests. The group’s leader Hassan Nasrallah said last week that the protests were part of an international conspiracy.
Yesterday, black-clad men reportedly connected to Hezbollah destroyed a protest camp in central Beirut, setting tents on fire and beating anti-government demonstrators. Riot police and troops fired tear gas to try and separate the rival groups.
Assuming he accepts Hariri's resignation, President Aoun will have to consult parliament to form another government. Analysts predict that this will be a tricky process.
–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––For a round-up of the most important stories from around the world - and a concise, refreshing and balanced take on the week’s news agenda - try The Week magazine. Get your first six issues for £6–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––