Facing escalating mass protests, Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri approved on Monday a package of economic reforms and a 2020 budget without new taxes, hoping to appease people on the streets.
But the pledges did little to appease the hundreds of thousands of protesters demanding the “fall of the regime”.
The demonstrations – Lebanon’s biggest in years – broke out on Thursday over the cash-strapped governments plans to impose new taxes, but have since widened into calls for the country’s entrenched political class to step down.
Lebanese protesters want to see the wealthy taxed, not average citizens
‘Reclaiming our country’: Protesters take back public spaces
Lebanon protesters reject government reform promises
Here are the latest updates:
Tuesday, October 22
Authorities tightening security around protests
Lebanese authorities are reportedly tightening security around the week-long protests, stopping protestors from erecting barricades.
“The Lebanese security forces are out in force, preventing protestors from blocking roads” reported Al Jazeera’s Zeina Khodr from Beirut.
However, protestors were “still defiant”, and want to “keep piling pressure on the government to resign”, she added.
“They are accusing the security forces of trying to crush the protest movement,” Khodr noted.
Demonstrations to continue despite Hariri’s reforms
Protesters in Lebanon insisted they will stay on the streets for a sixth day even after the government approved an unprecedented package of economic reforms.
The demonstrators have declared a general strike, sending a clear signal they reject the measures Prime Minister Hariri’s government announced on Monday.
Among the reforms was a 50-percent reduction in salaries for former and current lawmakers and ministers, and a vow to not impose any new taxes.
Lebanon has one of the biggest public debt ratios in the world, equivalent to about 150 percent of gross domestic product.
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