The Latest: Lebanon PM gives foes ultimatum on reforms
BEIRUT (AP) — The Latest on demonstrations against proposed new taxes amid economic crisis in Lebanon (all times local):
Lebanon’s prime minister has given his political adversaries a 72-hour ultimatum to back his reform agenda amid growing nationwide protests over the country’s worsening economic crisis.
In an address to the nation, Saad Hariri blamed political partners in his national unity government, which includes the Iran-backed Hezbollah group, for repeatedly blocking is reform efforts.
He called on them to make “clear, decisive and final” decisions regarding his proposed structural reforms to fix the ailing and heavily indebted economy.
Hariri appeared to suggest he would resign if that did not happen, but he did not elaborate.
Thousands of protesters have been rallying in different parts of the countries including outside the government house for two days, calling for the government’s resignation.
Demonstrators in Lebanon are blocking major roads across the country in a second day of protests against proposed new taxes, which come amid a severe economic crisis.
Hundreds of people burned tires on highways and intersections Friday, sending up clouds of black smoke in scattered protests.
Two Syrian workers died Thursday when they were trapped in a shop that was set on fire by rioters. Dozens of people were injured.
The street demonstrations began Thursday evening and quickly escalated into some of the biggest protests in years. They were sparked when government announced plans for new taxes on such items as voice calls made through messaging applications, including Whatsapp.
The protests could plunge Lebanon into a political crisis with unpredictable repercussions for the economy, which has been in steady decline.