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Lebanese Prime Minister Resigns Following Massive Anti-Corruption Protests

Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri speaks during a news conference in Beirut, Lebanon, October 29, 2019. (Mohamed Azakir/Reuters)

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced on Tuesday that he would submit his resignation to the country’s president after more than two weeks of anti-government protests engulfed the nation.

“We have reached a deadlock and we need a shock in order to brave through the crisis,” Hariri said in a televised statement. “This is in response to the will and demand of the thousands of Lebanese demanding change.”

The protests were sparked after the government announced a tax on phone calls made via messaging app WhatsApp. Hundreds of thousands of citizens eventually took to the streets in Beirut, effectively placing the city on lockdown, to protest against government corruption.

Demonstrators have called on government officials to step down, chanting “All of them means all of them!”

“Corruption is everywhere and in everything,” Paula Yacoubian, the only member of the Lebanese parliament who doesn’t belong to a political party, told the New York Times. “Corruption is when you look at the rivers, just a black smelly sewer. Corruption is 220 kilometers of shores where you cannot swim because of pollution.”

Lebanon has been unable to provide basic services such as 24-hour electricity and garbage disposal because of the demonstrations.

Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the terrorist group and Lebanese political party Hezbollah, warned last week that dissolving the government could plunge the country into another civil war. The Lebanese Civil War lasted from 1975 to 1990. Nasrallah also alleged on Saturday that foreign countries may be responsible for whipping up demonstrations.

Riot police have had to keep supporters of Hezbollah from clashing with protesters. On Tuesday, Hezbollah supporters attacked a protest camp set up by anti-government demonstrators, burning or dismantling demonstrators’ tents.

 

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