Following Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Harir’si resignation on Tuesday, at the end of two weeks of sometimes violent protests, President Michel Aoun asked him to continue leading a caretaker government.
“Lebanon will now have an honest government,” Aoun said, and told the protesters they could always go out to the streets again if this new, honest government, fails to deliver the reforms the country needs so badly.
According to Reuters, Hariri wished to form a cabinet made up of technocrats who would be able to implement the necessary reforms to prevent Lebanon’s economic collapse – without political constraints and the eternal conflicts among the various factions, most notably Hezbollah.
The protests followed power shortages, neglect of the infrastructure and high unemployment, as the Hariri government was attempting to do the impossible: show foreign donors it could make a dent in its national debt, which amounts to 150% of its gross national product.
Meanwhile, according to An-Nahar, Lebanese soldiers are reopening major roads that had been barricaded by protesters and paralyzed the country for two weeks. On Wednesday, the protesters looked on peacefully as bulldozers took down barriers and tents set up in the middle of highways and major intersections, An-Nahar reported.
But according to Naharnet, Mass anti-corruption demonstrations continued Wednesday in the northern city of Tripoli and the southern city of Sidon. The protesters called for the mass resignation of the president, the speaker of parliament and all the MPs. They also placed new barricades on the roads. The Lebanese Red Cross reported that three people were injured in a clash with the army in Sidon. The army fired tear gas to disperse protesters blocking the road in the town of al-Abdeh. And protesters blocked the international highway coming out of Tripoli.
Lebanese banks, which had been shuttered during the protests, plan to resume some operations on Friday. They brace themselves for an unavoidable run on the bank branches, and so have decided to keep capital markets closed.