Beirut: – Lebanon’s Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri has resigned, saying ‘President Michelle Aon’s demands are unacceptable. Henceforth let the only god take care of the country’. Hariri’s resignation was followed by violent protests and arson in the capital, Beirut. The Lebanese pound has fallen to record levels against the US dollar in international markets. Meanwhile, caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab had recently warned that Lebanon is only a few days away from a social outburst.
Last year, a powerful bomb blast near the port of Beirut had killed at least 200 people. The Lebanese government had to resign after the incident. This had plunged Lebanon’s already recessionary economy deeper into recession. The rise in inflation has made it difficult for Lebanese people to buy even foodstuff. Fuel, electricity and medicine were in short supply.
The World Bank had made it clear that a new government needed to be formed in Lebanon as soon as possible to get the country out of the economic crisis. Accordingly, in October last year, the Lebanese Parliament elected Saad Hariri as Prime Minister. Hariri also selected technocrats as his cabinet members and handed over the cabinet list to President Aon.
At a meeting on Thursday, President Aoun, affiliated with the pro-Iranian Hezbollah group, dismissed the list of cabinet members in the Hariri government. He also said that the date for the formation of the new government would be announced soon. But Hariri alleged that the changes proposed by President Aon to have his control over the cabinet were not in the country’s interest.
Violent protests erupted in major cities of Lebanon following the announcement of Hariri’s resignation. In the capital, Beirut, there have been reports of citizens setting fires and blocking roads. In some places, protesters have allegedly hurled stones at Lebanese soldiers. As per sources, one soldier was injured in the incident. At the same time, the Lebanese pound fell to 21,000 against the US dollar in international markets.
The political instability in Lebanon has provoked an international outcry. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has criticized Lebanese leaders for failing to address the crisis they created. The French Foreign Minister warned that the failure to form a government would be a significant crisis for Lebanon. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has called on Lebanese leaders to put aside their differences and form a new government. The Arab League has expressed concern that the decision could have serious consequences for Lebanon. Israel has ordered its military to be vigilant, saying the instability in Lebanon could affect border security.
Meanwhile, the European Union has already warned that sanctions will be imposed on Lebanon unless a government is formed soon. It is being claimed that the World Bank and international financial institutions also can turn their backs on Lebanon due to the failure to form a government.