Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri said on Tuesday he would submit his government’s resignation to President Michel Aoun in response to the protests, saying he had “reached a dead end.”
Lebanon has been gripped by unprecedented nationwide antigovernment protests. Hariri called on all Lebanese to protect civil peace.
His resignation would defy the powerful Shiite Muslim group Hezbollah, whose leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has twice said he was against such a step, citing the risk of a dangerous void.
In the street, supporters of Hezbollah and its Shi’ite ally Amal forced protesters from a roadblock they had set up in Beirut, tearing down their tents and fighting with them, forcing the police to intervene, the first such incident in the capital.
The Hezbollah and Amal supporters fanned out in the downtown area shouting “Shia, Shia” in reference to themselves and cursing protesters who have been calling for revolution.
Hariri last week sought to defuse popular anger through a set of reform measures agreed with other groups in his coalition government, including Hezbollah to, among other things, tackle corruption and long-delayed economic reforms.
But with no immediate moves toward enacting these steps, they did not satisfy demonstrators whose demands include the resignation of his coalition government.
One of the sources, a senior official from outside Hariri‘s Future Party, told Reuters the premier would “most probably” announce the government resignation on Tuesday. The report weighed on Lebanese dollar bonds.
The nationwide protests have paralyzed Lebanon at a time of deep economic crisis – banks were closed for a 10th day on Tuesday along with schools and businesses, with the pegged Lebanese pound weakening on a black market.