Lebanon: Thousands Rally to Support President

  • According to Reuters, this is the first time that demonstrations in support of the president have taken place on such a large scale.
  • “Ministers should be chosen according to their competencies and expertise, not political loyalties,” Aoun said.
  • Lebanon was rocked by protests due to citizens who were unhappy with the nation’s economic crisis.

On Sunday Lebanon experienced different demonstrations that are the direct opposite of what the nation had been used to in recent days. In the previous days’ demonstrations, the demonstrators graced the streets to oppose the Lebanese government and the country’s political system however; thousands were on the streets today in support of the President of Lebanon, Michel Aoun.

Michel Aoun is a Lebanese politician who is the current President of Lebanon. He was elected president on 31 October 2016 on the 46th electoral session of the Lebanese parliament, breaking a 29-month deadlock. He is a Maronite Christian and the founder of the Free Patriotic Movement.

According to Reuters, this is the first time that demonstrations in support of the president have taken place on such a large scale. “We’re here to say to Aoun that we love you and renew our trust in you,” said Hiyam Khairat at the rally. The support comes after the president promised reforms of the country’s political system earlier this week.

President to change the political system

The demonstrations that had earlier on been ongoing against the government forced the country’s Prime Minister, Saad al-Hariri, to resign last week. His step was apparently as a result of fierce protests against, among other things, new taxes and the country’s major problem of massive corruption.

President Aoun promised, after al-Hariri’s exit, that he will now work to put together a government in a new way that will, among other things, also change the country’s political system. As per the country’s current governance system, the government’s ministers are normally selected on the basis of their political or religious and sectarian affiliation, but the president now wants to change that.

“Ministers should be chosen according to their competencies and expertise, not political loyalties,” Aoun said in a televised speech to mark his completion of three years in office. The promise apparently pleased the protesters who have come out to support him today publicly.

The 2019 Lebanese protests, nicknamed the Tax Intifada, are a series of country-wide, non-sectarian protests in response to the government’s failure to find solutions to an economic crisis that has been looming for the past year. It is suspected that the direct trigger to the protests were due to the planned taxes on gasoline, tobacco and online phone calls such as through WhatsApp, as country-wide protests broke out right after Cabinet talks of the taxes, due to be ratified by 22 October.

The protests ensued due to tax on WhatsApp

Lebanon was rocked by protests due to citizens who were unhappy with the nation’s economic crisis. Protesters took to the streets to protest government measures, including taxing instant messaging applications like WhatsApp. They also unanimously called for the resignation of the then-prime minister.

The force of the demonstrations at the time caused Hariri to cancel a cabinet meeting on the 2020 budget. Telecommunications Minister Mohamed Choucair, having equally felt the impact of the massive protests, later on, announced that the new tax had been canceled after all.

Lebanon suffers from an economy eroded by the effects of the 15-year civil war (1975-1990), insecurity, and regional conflicts. In the country, the unemployment rate among people under 35 years old is at 37%.

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Vincent Ferdinand

News reporting is my thing. My view of what is happening in our world is colored by my love of history and how the past influences events taking place in the present time.  I like reading politics and writing articles. It was said by Geoffrey C. Ward, "Journalism is merely history's first draft." Everyone who writes about what is happening today is indeed, writing a small part of our history.

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