The Prime Minister of Lebanon announced his resignation Tuesday amid a day of violent anti-government protests and two weeks of political and economic turmoil in the country
The Prime Minister of Lebanon, Saad Hariri, announced his resignation from the position Tuesday amid a day of violent anti-government protests and two weeks of political and economic turmoil in the country. Hariri’s resignation represents one of the central demands of the predominantly peaceful protests, and thrusts the country deeper into uncertainty amid a severe economic and financial crisis. After resigning, Hariri stated Tuesday that, “[He] tried all this time to find an exit and listen to the voice of the people and protect the country from the security and economic dangers. [He] hit a dead end, and it is time for a big shock to confront the crisis.”~
According to AP News, the economic and financial crisis in the country of Lebanon has led to a severe scarcity in hard currency and a depreciating value of the local currency for the first time in more than two decades. The middle eastern country also faces one of the worst fiscal crises in the world with one of the highest debt ratios – $86 billion, which represents over 150% of Lebanon’s gross domestic product. Despite these economic hardships, the protests in Lebanon erupted specifically on October 17 in response to a proposed tax on the messenger service WhatsApp, which sent hundreds of thousands of citizens to the streets in the country’s largest demonstration in over a decade. The protests, mostly headed by those of the Hezbollah movement, quickly shifted to calls for the resignation of the government and the overthrow of the dominating political class that has hegemonized the country since the 1975-1990 civil war. Tuesday’s protests were the first to turn violent, and included “baton-wielding Hezbollah supporters rampaging through the main protest camp in Beirut, torching tents, smashing plastic chairs and chasing away protesters,” (AP News). ~
It remains unclear what effects Hariri’s resignation will have on the country’s future. According to the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Tuesday, the actions of the Lebonese have sent a clear message depicting the country’s goals. “The Lebanese people want an efficient and effective government, economic reform, and an end to endemic corruption.” ~
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