BEIRUT – Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri announced his resignation on Tuesday, saying that he has reached a dead-end, after over a week of demonstrations as people accused his government of being corrupt and causing an economic collapse.
“I have reached a dead-end today,” the 49-year-old prime minister said, adding that he should account for the nationwide public protests.
Speaking about the need for a change in his country, Hariri stated, “I’m going to the Baabda Palace to submit my resignation to the President [Michel Aoun]” in response to many Lebanese people who took to the streets.
In a later post on his twitter account, Hariri said he plans to tender his government’s resignation. “For all partners in political life, our responsibility today is how to protect Lebanon and promote the economy. There is a serious opportunity that must not be lost,” Hariri added.
On 17 October, the Lebanese government announced tax hikes on tobacco and internet calls, sparking mass protests, with demonstrators blocking roads and highways, demanding the resignation of the government and political reforms.
Last week, the head of the government announced a set of economic reforms and anti-corruption measures as thousands of protesters walked out across the country, blaming the faltering economy on widespread corruption and abuse of privileges among politicians.
But the move backfired for Hariri, with people saying it wasn’t enough and remaining in streets. President Aoun had expressed solidarity with the protesters who have flooded the streets of the country in recent days, saying their agitation shows “people’s pain”.
Secretary-General of the Lebanese Resistance Movement Hezbollah Seyed Hassan Nasrallah said on Saturday that the Hezbollah party was “determined to work hard” to solve the country’s problems and “not allow anyone to drown this country and take it to the abyss”.
Hariri already announced his resignation in November 2017, and it came under very strange circumstances. His statement back then was made from abroad, when he was on a visit to Saudi Arabia. This led to speculation that it was Riyadh that had forced him to step down, amid a spike in tensions between the oil-rich kingdom and Iran, which always had strong ties with Hezbollah.