Embattled Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri has submitted his resignation as people remain of the streets across Lebanon for the thirteenth day of anti-government demonstrations against the country’s economic crisis.
“I have reached a dead end today. I will head to the Baabda Palace to submit the government’s resignation to President Michel Aoun,” Hariri said as he addressed the Lebanese nation in a televised speech on Tuesday evening.
“Posts are not important; what’s important is the country’s dignity and safety,” he added, calling upon people from all strata of the Lebanese society to preserve the stability and security of the country.
Hariri highlighted that he wants to make a “positive shock,” saying, “No one is bigger than his country.”
He also told Lebanese political parties that “It is our responsibility to protect Lebanon.
Under the constitution, Hariri’s cabinet would stay on in a caretaker capacity until a new government is formed.
The protests first began on October 17, hitting Lebanon at a time of worsening financial crisis — banks were closed for a 10th day on Tuesday along with schools and businesses.
‘Lebanon government resignation won’t end economic crisis’
Earlier in the day, Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said the resignation of the incumbent government led by Hariri would not solve the deep social and economic crisis in the country, and would further complicate the situation.
Berri said the government must immediately embark on measures aimed at economic reforms, Lebanon’s Arabic-language al-Joumhouria daily newspaper reported.
“Changing the government’s components does not solve the crisis, but complicates it further, and will diminish the possibility of forming a new one in the foreseeable future, which opens the country to an unknown fate,” the senior Lebanese lawmaker pointed out.
Fresh scuffles in Beirut
Meanwhile, clashes have erupted between local residents of Beirut’s Ring Area and a group of vigilantes over the closure of streets in the neighborhood.
“Protesters must stage their sit-ins outside the houses of politicians and officials instead of paralyzing the movement of citizens,” the locals argued.
Lebanese security forces eventually intervened, and dispersed the crowd.
Observers and political pundits view Hariri’s resignation as a stinging blow to his pro-West and pro-Saudi Future Movement. They also state that the move would throw a monkey wrench into Saudi attempts to advance its agenda in Lebanon.
In November 2017, Hariri stunned Lebanon and the world by announcing his resignation in a live television broadcast from Saudi Arabia. He accused Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement of sowing strife in the Arab world – an allegation strongly rejected by both sides.
Senior sources close to Hariri and top Lebanese officials said Riyadh had coerced the Lebanese premier into stepping down and put him under house arrest.
Aoun stressed at the time that the prime minister was being detained in Saudi Arabia against his will. Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s secretary general, also noted that Saudi authorities had clearly and openly declared a war on Lebanon by holding Hariri hostage and forcing him to quit.
Hariri finally managed to get out of the kingdom amid international pressure on the Riyadh regime. He rescinded his resignation after returning home.
Jumblatt demands national dialogue
Moreover, President of the Progressive Socialist Party, Walid Jumblatt, appealed for calm and called on all Lebanese political parties and faction to engage in national talks in the wake of Hariri’s resignation.
“I do not know what circumstances Hariri is currently in, but if he rescinds his resignation, we are with him. Those coming to governance should well know the crisis in Lebanon and avoid an economic disaster,” he told Lebanon’s Arabic-language al-Mayadeen television news network.
France calls on Lebanese authorities to guarantee stability
Also, France on Tuesday called on Lebanese authorities to guarantee stability and national unity in the country after Hariri stepped down as the country’s prime minister.
“Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri has just resigned a few moments ago, which makes the crisis even worse in a way,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told the National Assembly.
“Will politicians and political authorities decide to build Lebanon together? Will they put the collective interest of the country ahead of their own? That is the question posed by Prime Minister Hariri’s resignation,” he added.
Banque du Liban chief denies economic ‘collapse’
Separately, governor of the central bank of Lebanon, officially known as Banque du Liban, has dismissed reports that Lebanon’s economy will collapse in a matter of days in the wake of anti-government protests.
“I am not saying that we are going to have a collapse in a matter of days. I am saying we need to have a solution in a matter of days to regain confidence and avoid collapse in the future,” Riad Salame said in an interview with CNN television news network on Monday.
The senior Lebanese monetary figure underlined that a “solution” to the crisis is needed within days in order to restore confidence and avoid a collapse.
(This item is being updated.)