Middle East

Lebanese PM sets deadline for economic reforms as protests rage

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Prime Pinister Saad Hariri gave his political adversaries in Lebanon's national unity government a 72-hour ultimatum to agree on "convincing" reforms amid escalating nationwide protests over the country's worsening economic crisis.

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"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," Hariri said in an address to the nation.

The Lebanese premier blamed political partners in his national unity government, which includes the Iran-backed Hezbollah group and rival political parties, for blocking his reform efforts at every turn.

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Hariris ultimatum came as tens of thousands of protesters marched across Lebanon for a second day, demanding the removal of a political elite they accuse of looting the economy to the point of breakdown. Clashes erupted in Beirut on Friday night, with police firing tear gas as young men attacked some banks and street signs in an area between parliament and government headquarters.

#Lebanon tnght:
-Spark largely spontaneous; protests widespread on almost entire territory. More persistent than previous cases.
-Slogans difficult to interpret in one particular direction (political or sectarian); globally anti-system (Hezbollah & Aoun included, besides Hariri). pic.twitter.com/QYvBrX8gfw

— Joseph Bahout باحوط (@jobahout) October 17, 2019

Lebanons biggest protests in a decade are reminiscent of the 2011 Arab revolts that toppled four presidents. They have brought people from all sects and walks of life on to the streets in villages and towns of Lebanon's south, north and east as well as the capital Beirut.

No political leader, Muslim or Christian, has been spared their wrath, with protesters chanting for top leaders, including President Michel Aoun, Prime Minister Hariri and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri to step down.

The mood was a mixture of rage, defiance and hope. The Saudi forRead More – Source

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