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Lebanon’s President Seeks to Appease Protesters by Pledging Cabinet of Technocrats

Lebanon’s President Seeks to Appease Protesters by Pledging Cabinet of Technocrats

Thursday, 31 October, 2019 - 19:15
The Lebanese President addresses the nation at the Baabda palace, Lebanon October 24, 2019. Dalati and Nohra photo

Lebanese President Michel Aoun tried to appease protesters on Thursday by saying that the new government’s ministers must be chosen based on competence and not political affiliations.

Aoun made a televised address after Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned on Tuesday following two weeks of anti-government protests.

Hariri handed the first victory for the demonstrators who are seeking the removal of a political class seen as corrupt, incompetent and sectarian.

The president formally asked Hariri on Wednesday to continue in a caretaker role until a new cabinet is formed.

The new government should meet the aspirations of the Lebanese people, Aoun said Thursday.

Describing sectarianism as a “destructive disease,” he called for the establishment of a modern civil state and said that “putting an end to confessionlism would salvage Lebanon.”

Aoun reiterated that the people should pressure their MPs to approve draft-laws that would fight corruption.

“It is the responsibility of all sides to overcome this crisis,” he added.

Aoun also called for an independent judiciary in the second address to the nation since the mass protests erupted Oct. 17.

Banks, schools and many businesses remained shuttered Thursday. But Lebanon's banking association said banks would reopen on Friday to meet "urgent" needs.

It asked customers to keep "the interests of the country" in mind.

"The association hopes that all bank customers understand the current situation and respond positively to serve their interests and the interests of the country during this exceptional period," a statement from the Association of Lebanese Banks said.

It said the banks would open to meet urgent needs such as salary payments.

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