Lebanese Protests: Protesters reject President’s call for dialogue, demand govt resignation


Hundreds of thousands of protesters have gathered in the Lebanon’s capital, Beirut, today, October 25 following their refusal to accept President Michel Aoun’s call for dialogue. The Lebanese people who turned to the streets in protest, demand for the government’s resignation before they will give any dialogues a nod.

Aoun said in his televised address to the nation on Thursday, he declared the government could not be toppled with street demonstrations but said he was willing to meet with demonstrators for a dialogue. He proposed a government reshuffle and pledged to back new legislation aimed at clamping down on corruption, saying the issue had “eaten us (Lebanon) to the bone”, Al Jazeera reported.

He also tried to convince protesters to accept Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s recently unveiled reform package – which had left protesters’ unimpressed – calling the measures “the first step to save Lebanon and remove the spectre of financial and economic collapse”.

However, where various civil society groups converging at Martyr’s Square in central Beirut, have swiftly rejected his invitation.

“It’s not acceptable because it doesn’t fulfil the needs of the people. His speech doesn’t meet the standards that people expect,” Ali Hoteit told Al Jazeera inside a tent erected by a group of army veterans.

For Hoteit and for many others along with him, no more negotiations until the government resigns.

“People have been here for eight days. They’re asking for the government to retire and the president is asking now for dialogue,” said Antoine Michael, a 35-year-old engineer from Mount Lebanon who was disappointed by Aoun’s speech.

The reaction to Aoun’s speech echoed the reception given to the measures announced by Hariri on Monday, which included a commitment to no new taxes and modest government spending on housing loans and social programmes. He also said the government would pass a law to return money stolen from the state and announced a 50 percent cut in ministerial salaries.

Following Aoun’s speech on Thursday, Hariri said he welcomed the president’s call to review the current government through “constitutional mechanisms”. (Source: Al Jazeera)