Lebanese PM gives government three days to back reforms as protests rock country

Lebanese PM gives government three days to back reforms as protests rock country
Amid calls to resign, Lebanese premier Saad Hariri has given coalition partners three days to back his reforms, or he 'will have something else to say.'
2 min read
18 October, 2019
Hariri implied that he could resign if demands weren't met, but did not elaborate. [Getty]
Lebanon’s prime Minister Saad Hariri gave his government and coalition partners three days to back reforms as protests against the political elite rocked the nation for the second day.

"I'm setting a very short deadline. Either our partners in the coalition government give a clear, decisive and final response to convince me, the Lebanese people and the international community... that everyone has decided on reforms, or I will have something else to say," he said, laying down a 72-hour deadline.

Hariri's statement appeared to suggest he would resign if that did not happen, but he did not elaborate.

Read more: Lebanon burns with hope and fury

Protests over dire economic conditions and bad governance erupted on Thursday, when Information Minister Jamal Jarrah had announced a 20 cent daily fee for users who made calls on apps such as Whatsapp and Viber. 

Two Syrian workers died on Thursday when they were trapped in a shop that was set on fire by rioters, AP reported. Dozens of other people were injured.

The demonstrations could plunge Lebanon further into a political crisis with unpredictable repercussions for the economy, which has been in steady decline for several years.

Public resentment in Lebanon has been growing steadily over the past few years. Austerity measures by billionaire politicians combined with bad governance and endemic corruption, along side external factors such as the spillover from the devastating war in Syria has taken its toll on the Lebanese economy.

The protests are being called the second wave of the Arab Spring protests, with demonstrations having already taken place in Sudan, Algeria and Egypt this year.

Economic growth has plummeted in Lebanon as a result of a repeated political deadlock in recent years, and was compounded by the impact the war in neighbouring Syria that has dragged on for the last six years.

According to data from regional research group Arab Barometer, 91 percent of Lebanon's citizens believe corruption has significantly affected public institutions, with only 27 percent saying that the country's government is working to tackle the issue.

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