Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Friday gave the country’s political parties a 72-hour ultimatum to back his reform agenda, in the face of unprecedented massive protests that have brought the country to a standstill.
“The country is going through an unprecedented situation. The pain of the Lebanese is real and I support every peaceful protest,” Hariri said in an address to the nation.
"I'm setting a very short deadline. Either our partners in the coalition government give a clear, decisive and final response to convince me, the Lebanese people and the international community... that everyone has decided on reforms, or I will have something else to say," he added, suggesting that he might step down.
“I do not regret the political settlement, because my duty was to protect the country,” the PM said.
Commenting on the sweeping anti-government protests, some of which have turned violent, Hariri said anger is “a natural response to the political performance in Lebanon and the obstruction of the state's work.”
“All kinds of obstacles were put in the way of all the reform efforts that I proposed,” the premier lamented.
He said the “real solution” is to “boost the country's revenues through restoring the economy's growth.”
“Reforms do not stand for imposing taxes,” he noted.
“What's important is how to address this situation and find solutions,” he said, adding that for three years now he has been trying to “address the reasons behind the people's pain.”
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