(3 Nov 2019) Tens of thousands of anti-government protesters marched to a major square in downtown Beirut on Sunday, demanding that the president calls for consultations with the parliamentary blocs to name a new prime minister after Saad Hariri’s resignation earlier this week.
They also called for a general strike on Monday to pressure political leaders.
The protest, the biggest since Tuesday when supporters of the Shiite militant party Hezbollah broke up the protest camp, followed a rally earlier in the day by supporters of Lebanon’s president, held to counter anti-government protests that have paralyzed the country for more than two weeks.
President Michel Aoun has been among the main targets of mass protests that aim to sweep from power Lebanon’s entire sectarian and political elite.
Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned Tuesday, meeting a key demand of the protesters, but Hezbollah and its allies, who dominate the government, have held their ground without offering any concrete proposals to meet the protesters’ demands.
The government proposed a vague roadmap last month aimed at improving the economy, fighting corruption and replacing the sectarian political system with a civil state, but the protests have continued.
Aoun has called for the formation of a new government, but that process could take weeks or even months, and would likely leave most political figures in place.
Lebanon’s sectarian parties are run by powerful families that include many former warlords who have long refused to give up power.
The country’s political system is based on a sectarian compact among Christians, Sunnis and Shiites, which has largely kept the country at peace for a generation but led to corruption and economic mismanagement culminating in a severe fiscal crisis.
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