BEIRUT. Lebanon’s prime minister submitted his government’s resignation on Tuesday, bowing to nearly two weeks of unprecedented nationwide protests against corruption and sectarianism.
Saad Hariri’s sombre televised address was met by cheers from crowds of protesters who have remained mobilised since October 17, crippling the country to press their demands.
“It has become necessary for us to make a great shock to fix the crisis. I am going to the Baabda Palace to submit the government’s resignation,” said Hariri, who had already stepped down twice from the same post.
He said his decision comes “in response to the will of many Lebanese who took to the streets to demand change”.
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The move, the demonstrators’ most significant win yet, will trigger the complicated task of parliament forming a new government — if the president accepts it.
Hariri’s announcement came after days of apparently unfruitful efforts to reshuffle posts within his uneasy coalition, as tension mounted on the ground between protesters and security forces bent on re-opening the country for business.
It also followed clashes between protestors and counter-demonstrators, which sparked fears of deeper civil strife.
In his speech on Tuesday, Hariri said he had reached a dead end, urging the political class to protect the country.
“Hariri is opening the door to a solution because the resignation is the only way for a decent exit from the current crisis,” said Sami Nader, director of the Levant Institute for Strategic Affairs.
After Hariri’s announcement, protestors across the country erupted in applause.
Hundreds gathered in the northern city of Tripoli — a stronghold of the prime minister — as well as the southern city of Sidon, from where his family hails.
In Tripoli — home to festive protest raves — large crowds gathered in the main al-Nour square waving the Lebanese flag.
“This resignation is welcome but it is not enough,” said Tima Samir, a 35-year-old mother of two. “We want the entire system to change.”