Lebanon’s protest gains momentum on seventh day

Protesters in Lebanon on Wednesday continued to block major roads, gather in streets as nationwide demonstrations entered the seventh day.

The protest is aimed at putting pressure on the government of Prime Minister Saad Hariri to resign.

“We will not leave the streets until all of this political group leave,’’ read a placard hung on a wall in central Beirut. The protesters have so far rejected the government’s package of economic reforms, which were presented to the public on Monday.

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

Among the reforms is a 50 percent reduction in salary for former and current lawmakers and ministers; the abolishment of the Ministry of Information and several 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 DPA 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 to shore up the state’s coffers.

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

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