Middle East News

Lebanon protesters block roads after PM-designate steps down

Dozens of Lebanese protesters yesterday blocked roads across the country after Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri stepped down today after failing to form the government for months.

The National News Agency said protesters blocked the highways in Khaldeh and Naameh with bins and burning tyres. The army was deployed to the streets, with some being pelted by stones. Rubber coated steel bullets were fired as an effort to disperse the crowds.

In the south, the agency said a number of young men blocked the road in Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri’s seaside town of Tyre, and forced customers out of restaurants.

Hariri yesterday announced that he will not be able to form a government about nine months after he was appointed to do so, saying President Michel Aoun has not changed his positions with regards to the cabinet formation.

“President Aoun’s position has not changed, and the amendments he requested are essential … he told me that it is difficult to reach a consensus, so I stepped down … may Allah help the country.”

READ: Egypt offers support for Lebanon as Hariri arrives in Cairo

On Wednesday, Hariri presented a new Cabinet line-up of 24 ministers, hours after he returned from Cairo where he held talks with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi.

A statement by the Lebanese presidency said Hariri had “rejected all the amendments related to changing ministries, their sectarian distribution and the names associated with them.”

Over the past nine months, differences between Aoun and Hariri prevented the formation of a government, to succeed the current caretaker government headed by Hassan Diab, which resigned on 10 August 2020, six days after a catastrophic explosion in Beirut port which killed 200.

Lebanon is battling an economic meltdown dubbed by the World Bank as one of the deepest depressions in modern history.

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