Anti-austerity protests in Lebanon to enter fourth straight day

Demonstrators block a highway linking Beirut to north Lebanon in Zouk Mosbeh on Oct 20, 2019.
Demonstrators block a highway linking Beirut to north Lebanon in Zouk Mosbeh on Oct 20, 2019.PHOTO: AFP

BEIRUT (DPA) - Lebanon's anti-austerity protesters called for more demonstrations on Sunday (Oct 20), the fourth straight day of protests, to add pressure on the Lebanese government to resign.

Demonstrators, who have been on the streets since last Thursday, have pledged to continue marching despite the resignations late on Saturday of four members of the government from the key political party Christian Lebanese Forces.

Lebanese citizens have been suffering from tax hikes and dire economic conditions in the heavily indebted country. The grievances and anger at the government's lack of solutions erupted into protests.

"We want everybody to join us on Sunday and also Monday to topple the government," one protester said. The protesters expect the demonstrations to surge in number on Sunday, as it is a weekend. Prime Minister Saad Hariri last Friday gave a 72-hour deadline to his partners in government to agree on a solution to the country's economic woes without imposing new taxes.

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah, whose movement is part of the government, warned on Saturday that a change in government would only worsen the situation.

Lebanon is under pressure from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to take austerity measures in return for financial support.

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