Lebanon: Two Weeks Of Protests Force PM To Resign
Lebanon has been gripped by unprecedented anti-government and anti-austerity protests for nearly two weeks, pushing Prime Minister Saad Hariri to announce sweeping economic reforms then offer to resign on Tuesday.
Here is a recap:
Apps tax anger
Demonstrations erupt on October 17, just hours after the government announces a tax on calls made via messaging services like WhatsApp.
Thousands take to the streets in the capital Beirut and the cities of Sidon and Tripoli, some chanting “the people demand the fall of the regime”.
There are clashes near government headquarters in Beirut, as demonstrators try to storm the building.
Security forces say around 40 of their members are wounded. They fire tear gas to try to disperse crowds.
Hundreds of protestors also block major highways and set refuse bins and tyres alight.
The government scraps the messaging app tax later the same day.
On October 18, thousands of demonstrators from a broad spectrum of sects and political affiliations bring the capital to standstill.
They demand an overhaul of the political system, citing grievances from austerity measures to poor infrastructure.
Hariri gives his coalition government partners three days to support a reform drive.
The army reopens some highways and fires tear gas and water cannons to disperse a huge crowd in Beirut’s central Riad al-Solh Square, a main rallying point.
Security forces say 70 protesters are arrested.
The demonstrations swell over the following days, with major gatherings also in second city Tripoli and other locations across the country.
On October 19, the Maronite Christian Lebanese Forces party pull its four ministers from the cabinet.
On October 21, Hariri announces his government has approved a raft of economic reforms, including halving salaries of lawmakers and ministers.
But the protests continue, with demonstrators dismissing the new measures as insufficient and a desperate move by the political class to save their jobs.
Hezbollah calls in supporters
On October 25, the head of the powerful Shiite movement Hezbollah, which with its allies holds the majority in parliament, tells his supporters to not take part in the protests.
“We do not support the resignation of the government,” Hassan Nasrallah says.
On October 26, loyalists of Hezbollah mobilise counter-demonstrations across the country, sparking scuffles with demonstrators.
Its ally the Free Patriotic Movement also stages separate smaller rallies supporting its founder, President Michel Aoun.
But Hezbollah faces pressure, with protests breaking out in some of its strongholds, an unprecedented development in the politically fractured country.
Also on October 26, at least six civilians are reportedly wounded when soldiers confront protestors trying to block a road near Tripoli.
The following day, tens of thousands of protesters form a 170-kilometre (105-mile) chain across the country to symbolise national unity.
On October 29, dozens of counter-demonstrators descend on Riad al-Solh Square and attack anti-government protesters, torching tents and tearing down banners that call for “revolution”.
Less than an hour later, Hariri announces in a televised address that he will submit his and his cabinet’s resignation to Aoun later in the evening.