Lebanon PM threatens to resign as Beirut protests continue

Lebanon PM Tammam Salam says he won’t be part of country’s collapse as "You Stink" protests raise tensions

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Lebanon's Prime Minister Tammam Salam speaks during a news conference at the government palace in Beirut, Lebanon, August 23, 2015.

Updated Aug 24, 2015

Lebanon Prime Minister Tammam Salam declared in a press statement on Sunday that if the cabinet does not make the decisions on the list he is to put in front of them in a meeting scheduled for Thursday, a collapse is probable for the country.

“I will not be part of this collapse. Let each side and political forces bear its responsibility and know the facts,” he warned.

Lebanese protesters mostly organised under the “You Stink” group, which refers to a garbage crisis Beirut has experienced for the last month, have been demonstrating against the government for two days.

The police and security forces used water cannons, tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd in central Beirut, near the government headquarters on Saturday.

30 protesters were injured and taken to hospital on Sunday and 16 others had been wounded on Saturday, the Lebanese Red Cross said.

The Internal Security Forces also declared that 35 of its members got injured on Saturday.

Salam at the same time promised accountability on for the use of “excessive force against civil society and against the people.”

There were mountains of garbage in Beirut streets after a refuse tip was closed on July 19 without an agreement on an alternative.

The rubbish was finally cleared but conflicts had emerged within the government over which company is to sign the new contract, leading to corruption accusations from opponents.

“You Stink” protesters criticised the government and demanded for it to resign. They chanted the famous Arab Spring slogan “The people want to bring down the regime."

“We are here to protest against lack of jobs, poverty and hunger. We have no electricity and water, the only thing they are good at is hosing us with water here when we the water is cut in our homes,” one protestor said.

The Salam government consists of opponent groups including the Sunni-led Future Movement of Saad al-Hariri, Shi'ite Hezbollah, and different Christian groups.

Salam’s resignation might trigger a constitutional crisis, as it’s the president who appoints the prime minister in Lebanon. However, Lebanon has been without a president for a year as factions within the government have failed to agree on who it should be.

The country’s public debt is also over its GDP, according to a government source cited by Reuters.

TRTWorld and agencies