Lebanese protesters wave the national flag during a protest against adverse economic conditions in central Beirut. Photo: Ibrahim Amro / AFP
- State Content
- (10/20/2019) (16:12)
Thousands of Lebanese protesters of all ages filled large cities on Sunday demanding the end of corruption and the rule of the country's political elite. Hourly, hundreds of people hit the streets for the biggest protests against the government so far in the four days of demonstrations.
Protesters danced and sang in the streets, some flying Lebanese flags and chanting "the people want to overthrow the regime". In the morning, young people carried blue bags and cleaned the streets of the Beirut capital, picking up the garbage from the night before.
The spontaneous demonstrations are the largest in Lebanon in the last five years, spreading beyond Beirut. They are bolstered by the rage that has been coming for some time against the ruling political class that has split power and accumulated wealth for decades, but has done little to improve a troubled economy and dilapidated infrastructure.
The unrest exploded after the government proposed new taxes, part of austerity measures amid the growing economic crisis. Politicians now race against time to come up with an economic rescue plan that they hope will help calm the people. Many protesters have said they do not trust the reforms of the current government, and call for the ministry to be resigned and replaced by a smaller group of technocrats.
In a speech on Friday night, Prime Minister Saad Hariri had given his government partners a 72-hour ultimatum to present convincing solutions to the economic crisis. A day later, Hariri said he was meeting with ministers to "achieve something that would serve the Lebanese." On Sunday, Hariri continued his meetings to receive the latest suggestions to revive the country's economy, which suffers from high unemployment, low growth and debt that reaches 150% of GDP.