Protesters have used comedy to undermine established political actors, including the powerful Hezbollah group.
Lebanon‘s Prime Minister Saad Hariri has said he will submit his government’s resignation to President Michel Aoun following nearly two weeks of mass protests against the country’s ruling elite.
Hariri made the announcement in a televised statement on Tuesday, satisfying one of the main demands of the protesters who have been holding rallies in public squares and blocking main roads amid widespread anger over official corruption and economic mismanagement.
Here are all the latest updates:
Germany hopes Hariri’s resignation will not undermine the country’s stability, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said.
“The further development in Lebanon is for us and for the whole region of decisive importance. We hope possible future protests will be peaceful,” Maas told reporters after meeting his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry in Cairo.
“We don’t need a political vacuum [in Lebanon],” he added.
Aoun is studying Hariri’s resignation letter and will not issue a request for the cabinet to take on a caretaker role on Tuesday, a source in the presidency told Reuters.
Naim Salem, a professor at Notre Dame University, said the next step was for Aoun to appoint a replacement for Hariri.
“This is a very difficult task, and most likely I expect that Hariri will be reappointed again as prime minister, designated to form a new cabinet,” he told Al Jazeera from Beirut.
“The need now is to put [together] this new cabinet, [with] people that have the highest level of integrity … there will be much give and take, much pulling of strings between the major political parties in the country.”
Hariri has submitted his resignation to the country’s president following days of anti-government protests.
Hariri said he has reached a “dead-end” after unprecedented protests paralyzed the country.
Rami Khouri, a senior public policy fellow and professor at the American University of Beirut, joined us live from Boston to discuss the latest updates.
The resignation of Lebanon’s government has made the crisis there “even more serious,” France’s foreign minister said in parliament in Paris.
Jean-Yves Le Drian urged Lebanese authorities “to do everything they can to guarantee the stability of the institutions and the unity of Lebanon”.
Le Drian offered France’s help saying that a condition for stability in any country “is a willingness to listen to the voice and demands of the population”.
Rami Khouri, a senior public policy fellow and journalism professor at the American University of Beirut, described Hariri’s move as a “huge victory” for the protest movement and a “critical turning point”.
He added, however, that the prime minister was the “weakest link” in the country’s coalition government, which grouped nearly all of Lebanon’s main parties, including the powerful Hezbollah.
“He was the low-hanging fruit who was likely to resign,” Khouri said.
“The question now is will this trigger a process by which Hezbollah, which is the critical player in the background, as well as the president and his party … will those people agree to a technocratic government which goes on to the next step of the demands of the protesters?”
Al Jazeera’s Zeina Khodr, reporting from Beirut, said Aoun could refuse to accept Hariri’s resignation.
“Some believe the prime minister could be using this as some sort of negotiating tactic trying to pressure his – what he says – partners in government to agree on a new government,” Khodr said.
“But his partners in government are not his allies and so far they are clinging on to power. So far they are refusing to heed the protest movement’s demands.
“Visitors of the House Speaker Nabih Berri were quoted by local media as saying that he is against forming a new government because he believes the protest movement will keep asking for more and more,” Khodr said.
In a televised speech, Hariri said he has reached a “dead end” and will submit his resignation to President Michel Aoun in response to 13 days of anti-government protests.
“It has become necessary for us to make a great shock to fix the crisis. I am going to the Baabda Palace to give my resignation,” Hariri said.
He urged the Lebanese to maintain stability and security of their country.
“No one is bigger than the country,” Hariri said.
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Lebanese banks will remain shut on Wednesday amid ongoing unrest, the country’s banking association said.
The Association of Lebanese Banks said banks were keen to ensure pubic and private sector workers would receive their salaries.
Hariri was expected to deliver an address at 4pm local time (14:00 GMT), an official Twitter account said
Two official sources told Reuters news agency that Hariri was likely to resign.
The report could not be independently verified.
People believed to be Hezbollah supporters attacked and ransacked the main anti-government protest site in the Lebanese capital, tearing down tents and smashing chairs.
The men, some of them wielding sticks, began scuffling with protesters who were blocking roads in the capital. Some of the men chanted slogans praising Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Hezbollah group, who has criticised the anti-government protests.
Hezbollah/Amal supporters setting the tents in Martyrs Square on fire earlier today pic.twitter.com/NMdaqArVNM
— Timour Azhari (@timourazhari) October 29, 2019
Groups of men could be seen massing near main protest sites as Lebanese security forces moved quickly to try to separate them from the protesters.
The protesters could be seen taking up metal poles and wooden batons.