A nationwide general strike has been called across Lebanon for Monday as protests, demanding an end to economic woes and perceived government corruption, are set to continue for a fifth day.
Protests have grown steadily across the country since people took to streets on Thursday in response to a proposed tax on WhatsApp calls and other messaging services.
On Friday, Hariri gave a 72-hour deadline to his coalition partners to agree on a solution to the country’s economic woes without imposing new taxes.
Here are the latest updates:
Monday, October 21
Protesters begin final countdown as 72-hour deadline comes to close
Protesters across Lebanon have been counting down the hours after Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri gave his cabinet a 72-hour deadline on Friday to agree reform plans, hinting he might otherwise resign.
The deadline expires on Monday evening.
— Afram Siwahji (@Afram87) October 21, 2019
Lebanese president’s son-in-law joins protesters
Lebanese member of parliament and son-in-law of President Michel Aoun, Shamil Roukoz, has joined demonstrators in Matn, a district in Mount Lebanon.
Videos published by Lebanese media showed Roukouz greeted with applause and carried on the shoulders of other protesters.
— حديث المدينة (@citytalksnews) October 21, 2019
President Aoun: Protests show ‘people’s pain’
Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun said protests gripping the country showed “people’s pain” but that accusing all politicians of corruption equally was not fair.
Aoun added that the government must at least start by lifting banking secrecy from current and future ministers, his office said in a tweet.
“What is happening in the streets expresses people’s pain, but generalising corruption [charges] against everyone carries big injustice,” he said during a cabinet session.
Lebanon cabinet session begins at presidential palace
Lebanon’s cabinet has convened, headed by President Michel Aoun at the Baabda Palace, as protests grip the country in the biggest show of dissent against the ruling elite in decades.
The government is expected to approve reforms including halving ministers’ wages in a bid to ease an economic crisis and defuse protests that have brought hundreds of thousands of people to the streets for four days.
Officials told Reuters news agency on Sunday that Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri had agreed a package of reforms with his government partners to tackle the crisis that has driven hundreds of thousands of protesters into the streets.
Lebanon dollar bonds tumble as protests spread
Lebanon’s government bonds tumbled by one cent or more after fierce protests over the country’s economic crisis had spread on Sunday ahead of a cabinet meeting on speeding up reforms.
The sovereign’s 2025 issue tumbled 1.34 cents in the dollar to trade at 65.5 cents, Tradeweb data showed, taking the bond’s two day losses to nearly 4 cents.
Four days of protests have been the biggest show of dissent in decades against the country’s ruling elite which is strained by claims of corruption and cronyism. On Sunday, PM Hariri agreed a package of reforms with government partners.