The president of Lebanon, Michel Aoun, has asked Saad Hariri and his Government on Wednesday to remain in office in office after he presented his resignation as prime minister the day before the massive anti-government protests in the country.
As reported by the Presidency in a statement, Aoun has commissioned Hariri and his ministers to remain in office pending the formation of a new government in the country, as stipulated by the Constitution.
Subsequently, the president has stressed that the country will have “a clean government”, while indicating that “the protests that have taken place opened the door to a major reform.”
“If obstacles arise along the way, people will return to the squares,” said the president, in a meeting with a delegation of the Maronite League, as reported by the Lebanese state news agency, NNA.
Aoun has also indicated that the “corruption points are known” and has emphasized that “the corrupt must be held accountable and judged”, one of the main demands of the protesters.
As he has told Reuters a high position close to Hariri, the Sunni politician would be willing to take office again on the condition that the new government includes technocrats capable of implementing the reforms the country needs to recover the battered economy and there are some politicians present in the current one.
For its part, the European Union (EU) mission in Lebanon has stressed that “it is imperative that a new government be formed without delays and that structural reforms be implemented”, while asking the Executive for “an inclusive dialogue” with civil society.
Thus, he stressed that “Lebanese citizens have taken to the streets and expressed their disappointment with the political situation in the country.” “They have asked for accountability from political leaders and better government action, as well as overcoming social divisions. Their appeals must be heard,” he said.
The regional bloc has also shown its “grave concern” for “violations of the freedom of assembly and expression of citizens”, as well as for “recent incidents of violence in demonstrations.”
“We applaud the security forces for the containment policy shown so far and we continue to ask the authorities to protect all peaceful demonstrations. The political parties have responsibility for the behavior of their followers,” he said.
THE HARIRI DIMISION
Hariri announced on Tuesday his decision to resign “as the streets claim,” while acknowledging that he had reached “a stalemate.” “The positions are not permanent, the important thing is the dignity and security of the country and nobody is bigger” than Lebanon, the Sunni politician defended. He also appealed to “all parties to prioritize the interest and security of Lebanon and prevent an economic collapse.”
His announcement was received with joy by the protesters, who however did not depose the protests. However, the Army and security forces have managed to reopen some streets and roads on Wednesday, after the military's call to protesters to concentrate on plazas and voluntarily remove the barricades.
The protests started in early October in the midst of the deterioration of the crisis and after a local currency crash for the first time in the last two decades. The discontent was already dragging on since July, when Parliament approved an austerity budget to address the deficit.
Lebanon faces a large public debt and financial problems due to the slowdown in the capital flow needed to finance the Government, also undermined by low growth and a high unemployment rate, close to 30 percent.