Significant anti-government demonstrations planned for Lebanon’s Independence Day

Significant anti-government demonstrations are expected in Beirut today as Lebanon celebrates its independence. A month has passed since people first

lebanon protests

Photo: Reuters/Ali Hashisho

Significant anti-government demonstrations are expected in Beirut today as Lebanon celebrates its independence.

A month has passed since people first took to the streets in what quickly became a nationwide protest that resulted in the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri on October 29. Demands range from economic reforms to trials for corrupt politicians to the complete ouster of the political elite.

Amid the tumult, Lebanon’s economy and finances are slipping further towards collapse, with fuel shortages widespread and importers warning that basic foodstuffs may soon be at risk.

While the government has made concessions to the protesters, relief appears remote. Such deep-seated problems can only be fixed through long-term policies, such as dealing with a large budget deficit and bringing down public debt—likely causing pain in the short-term—and a strong central government, which Lebanon lacks.

There was talk that leading political parties had agreed to nominate former finance minister Mohammad Safadi as PM. Safadi could begin trying to form a new government next week, but such processes often take a long time, and it is not clear how much backing he has. If Safadi fails to garner enough support for a government, it is not clear who could step in to organise the new elections the protesters are demanding.

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