Lebanon’s prime minister has resigned following nearly two weeks of massive protests in the country that caused major disruptions to the country’s economy and daily life.
CNN and The New York Times reported Tuesday that Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced that he would step down during a televised speech to the nation, while protesters clashed with police and members of Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed Lebanese political party, in the streets.
“I can’t hide this from you. I have reached a dead-end,” Hariri said in the CNN report. “To all my political peers, our responsibility today is how to protect Lebanon and to uplift the economy. Today, there is a serious opportunity and we should not waste it.”
“Jobs come and go, but what’s important is the country, no one’s bigger than the nation,” he added, according to the Times.
Hariri’s resignation comes as the country faces a major economic crisis and allegations of corruption across all levels of government. Protests began earlier this month, targeting major roads and highways, after the government announced a tax on calls made over Whatsapp and other messaging services.
The prime minister himself was also battling fallout from revelations that he had given around $16 million to a South African bikini model decades younger than him, according to the Times.
“Corruption is everywhere and in everything. Corruption is when you look at the rivers, just a black smelly sewer. Corruption is 220 kilometers of shores where you cannot swim because of pollution,” Paula Yacoubian, a member of Lebanon’s Parliament unaffiliated with any party, told the Times. “I mean, corruption is obvious to the eyes, to the nose, to all senses.”
A committee will be appointed by Lebanon’s president, Michel Aoun, to find Hariri’s replacement, according to the Times, though it is unclear if the resignation of Hariri will placate hundreds of thousands of protesters — nearly a quarter of the country’s population — who have demonstrated in recent days.