Lebanon protesters mount pressure on prime minister

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A protest aimed at putting pressure on the government of Prime Minister Saad Hariri to resign as the head of Lebanese government on Wednesday entered it seventh day with protesters blocking major roads.

“We will not leave the streets until all of this political group leaves,” read a placard hung on a wall in central Beirut.

Schools, universities and banks remain shut across Lebanon amid the protests demanding an end to the country’s economic woes and political corruption.

The protesters have so far rejected the government’s package of economic reforms, which were presented to the public on Monday.

Among the reforms is a 50 per cent reduction in salary for former and current lawmakers and ministers; the abolishment of the Ministry of Information and a number of other state institutions.

Also the establishment of an anti-corruption panel. Hariri vowed that no new taxes would be imposed.

A government source, who requested anonymity to speak about the government’s thinking on the protests, told journalists that there are serious discussions among the country’s leaders and political parties.

The discussion was to whether the cabinet should be re-shuffled or an entirely new one formed that is packed with people with economic expertise.

The demonstrators accuse the country’s political class of mismanagement, wasting public funds and rampant corruption.

The protests were sparked on Thursday by an unpopular proposal to introduce fees for users of messaging apps such as WhatsApp with the aim of shoring up the state’s coffers.

The country has one of the biggest public debt ratio in the world, equivalent to about 150 per cent of gross domestic product.

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