Lebanon In Turmoil As Premier Steps Down


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By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy

(Worthy News) – Violence erupted as plunged into political and economic turmoil Friday following the sudden resignation of the prime minister-designate.

Saad Hariri said he stepped down Thursday after the president rejected his latest cabinet proposal. “I presented my apology for not being able to form a government, and God help the country,” Hariri said in published remarks.

His announcement — nearly a year after a deadly explosion at Beirut port forced the last government to resign — sparked violence.

Soon after Hariri’s remarks, overnight clashes between the army and frustrated protesters left several people injured, medics told reporters.

Witnesses said a few dozen demonstrators clashed late Thursday with soldiers who fired rubber bullets to try to clear roads near a major sports stadium in Beirut, the capital.

The Lebanese Red Cross, which dispatched three ambulances to the area, confirmed that a person was wounded but did not say how many.

POUND PLUNGES

Amid the turmoil, the Lebanese pound, officially pegged to the dollar at 1,500, plummeted to a new record low beyond 20,000 on the black market.

President Michel Aoun, who heads the predominantly Free Patriotic Movement party, will have to call on parliament to pick a new premier-designate to assemble another cabinet.

But such, a process has become increasingly difficult in the troubled nation.

Hariri’s decision to step down followed a meeting with Aoun over his draft cabinet lineup. “There were amendments requested by the president, which I considered substantial,” Hariri told reporters after the meeting.

“It is clear that… we will not be able to agree,” he added, noting that the president had expressed the same opinion. However, Aoun’s later said Hariri “was not ready to discuss amendments of any kind… (leaving) the door to discussion… closed”.

For months, Hariri and Aoun traded blame for delays in establishing a government.

WORLD CONCERNED

The political impasse frustrated the International community.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement that Lebanon’s “political class had squandered the last nine months.” “It is critical that a government committed and able to implement priority reforms be formed now,” he added.

The international community pledged millions of dollars in humanitarian aid since last year’s Beirut port blast but made the donations conditional on installing a government capable of tackling corruption.

Jean-Yves Le Drian, foreign minister of ex-colonial power , reportedly said Hariri’s move was proof that “Lebanese officials are unable to find a way out of the crisis.” He accuses them of “cynical self-destruction.”

The said Lebanon should quickly establish a government capable of addressing the country’s “numerous challenges.”

Besides facing economic difficulties, Lebanon country also hosts up to 900-thousand registered refugees, according to the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR. Most refugees, including Christians, arrived from -torn , U.N. sources say.

Hariri, who has previously led three governments in Lebanon, replaced as premier-designate Mustapha Adib, a relatively unknown diplomat.

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