Last Update 12:15
Monday, 16 December 2019

Nationwide strike in Lebanon on fifth day of protests

The cabinet meets in Baabda Palace and Saad Al-Hariri announces reform measures.

Sama Osama , Monday 21 Oct 2019
Lebanon
A handout picture provided by the Lebanese photo agency Dalati and Nohra shows Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Hariri speaking to the press following a cabinet meeting at the presidential palace in Baabda, east of the capital Beirut on October 21, 2019.(AFP)
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A nationwide general strike was called for in Lebanon as protests demanding the fall of the regime continued for the fifth day.

Several sources reported that on Monday morning shops were closed and the majority of streets were empty. Reuters reported that schools, banks and businesses were still closed across the country.

Lebanon’s Traffic Control Room reported that dozens of roads in Beirut and most cities were blocked, including a number of major roads and highways.

Protesters gathered in the main squares across Lebanon and in the large sit-ins in the Martyrs' Square in downtown Beirut, Al-Nour Square in Tripoli and Al-Alam Square in Tyre.

Monday strike was called for by multiple actors.

The National Federation of Trade Unions and Employees (Fenasol) has called for a general strike on Monday to change the political regime. Fenasol also called upon people in its statement on Sunday to continue their movement and to participate in sit-ins throughout Lebanon and in Riad Al-Solh Square.

Lebanese An-Nahar newspaper reported that activists appealed to citizens not to retreat from the streets, and called on people to declare a strike, and not to go to work even if they were subjected to pressure from their employers.

The newspaper also reported on the Association of Public Secondary Teachers’s call for a general strike on Monday in secondary schools and teachers' houses.

Many actors announced on Sunday their participation in the strike, and people were invited to report any institutions that threatened their employees if they did not go to work on Monday.

Lebanon's cabinet met this morning at Baabda Palace.

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri said after the meeting that the 2020 budget will have a deficit of 0.6 percent without any taxes, and that the Bank of Lebanon and other banks will contribute to reducing the deficit.

He added that among the measures expected are a 50 percent reduction in the salaries of ministers and deputies, preparation of a draft law to recover the looted funds, the installation of "scanners" at the crossings, tightening penalties on smugglers, and abolishing the Ministry of Information and other unnecessary institutions.

Al-Hariri stated that those measures were not a "trade-off" and that only protesters should decide when to leave the streets.

It’s estimated that since Thursday around 2 million people took to the streets in Lebanon in peaceful protests similar to the 2011 Arab Spring protests calling for the fall of the corrupt regime and the resignation of political leaders.

Lebanon has been facing a deteriorating economic crisis. The overall unemployment rate in Lebanon is 25 percent, and its debt-to-GDP ratio is above 150 percent.

On Friday, Al-Hariri gave whom he called “partners in government” a 72-hour deadline to support reforms in Lebanon. 

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