BEIRUT (AP) — The Latest on anti-government protests in Lebanon (all times local):
A Lebanese Christian leader has asked his four ministers in the Cabinet to resign amid nationwide protests against the country’s political elite.
Samir Geagea, who heads the right-wing Lebanese Forces party, said late Saturday he no longer believes the current national unity government headed by Premier Saad Hariri can steer the country out of a deepening economic crisis.
The protesters are calling for the government to resign.
The resignation is another test for the government that has been shaken by the protests, blaming the current political class for amassing wealth but doing little to fix a crumbling economy and dilapidated infrastructure.
The resignation, however, does not collapse the 30-member Cabinet. Prime Minister Saad Hariri had given his partners in government until Monday to find ways to deal with the current crisis, blaming them for refusing his proposed reform.
Arab Gulf nations are encouraging their citizens to leave Lebanon amid violent nationwide protests over the country’s worsening economic crisis.
The state-run Saudi Press Agency says Saudi Arabian nationals have been warned against travelling to Lebanon and those already there are being asked to take utmost caution. The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain went a step further, calling on their citizens to leave amid the unrest.
Protests continued Saturday for a third day. Thousands of protesters have been rallying across the country, closing major roads over proposed taxes by the government. They’ve been railing against top leaders including the president, prime minister and parliament speaker, whom they blame for decades of corruption, and calling for the government’s resignation.
Lebanon’s influential Hezbollah leader says he doesn’t support the government’s resignation amid nationwide protests calling for politicians to step down over a deepening economic crisis.
Hassan Nasrallah said Saturday that calls for the current national unity government to resign are “a waste of time” since the same political groups will haggle over forming a new one.
Largescale protests that have targeted the country’s entire political class have brought Lebanon to a standstill since Thursday.
Nasrallah warned the protesters against being pulled into political rivalries, saying that would derail their message. He said politicians who shirk responsibility, by quitting the Cabinet while the economy crumbles, should be brought to trial.
Lebanon’s prime minister gave his partners in government a 72-hour ultimatum to come up with convincing solutions amid the pressures.