Lebanese caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab threatened Saturday to refrain from performing his duties to pressure politicians to form a new government, referring to an incident of a quarrel that occurred between shoppers over a bottle of milk to explain the perilous state of the Lebanese economy. Meanwhile, protesters demonstrated on Saturday in front of the Association of Banks in Lebanon, demanding access to their deposits, and then went to the Parliament building in downtown Beirut to express their frustration with the deteriorating economic conditions. </p><div> <p>The Lebanese caretaker prime minister took refuge <a target="_blank" href="https://www.france24.com/ar/الشرق-الأوسط/20201214-حسان-دياب-يرفض-الخضوع-للاستجواب-بطلب-من-القضاء-فيما-يتعلق-بانفجار-مرفأ-بيروت" rel="noopener"><strong>Hassan Diab</strong></a> Saturday pointed to a threat to hold off from his duties with the aim of pressuring politicians to form a new government, citing an incident in which shoppers quarreled over milk to explain the perilous state of the economy.
Diab’s government resigned after the Beirut bombing on August 4, which destroyed large swathes of the capital, Beirut. Saad al-Hariri was assigned to prime minister in October, but he has not yet succeeded in forming a new government due to a political crisis with President Michel Aoun.
Quarrel over milk
The financial crisis that began in 2019 has resulted in job losses and triggered warnings of rising hunger and depriving people of access to their bank deposits. The new cabinet could implement the reforms needed to secure billions of dollars in international aid.
In a speech, Diab said, “If the retreat helps form the government, then I am ready for it even though it contradicts my convictions,” indicating that this could disrupt the entire state and seriously harm the Lebanese.
Diab referred to a recent incident in a Beirut store where shoppers quarreled over powdered milk, asking, “Doesn’t the scene of the milk race constitute a sufficient incentive to transcend the formalities and round the corners in order to form a government?”
A video of the quarrel went viral on social media, leaving many people shocked by the miserable state of the economy.
Groups of protesters have torched tires to block roads across the country on a daily basis since the Lebanese currency plunged to a new low on Tuesday, angering residents who have long been alarmed by the country’s financial meltdown.
The collapse of the Lebanese pound, which fell to 10,000 against the dollar on Tuesday, was the last straw for many who have seen the price of consumer goods such as diapers and pills nearly triple since the start of the crisis.
On Saturday, protesters demonstrated in front of the Association of Banks in Lebanon, demanding access to their deposits, and then went to the Parliament building in downtown Beirut to express their frustration with the deteriorating economic conditions.
In his speech, Diab said, “What is the fault of the Lebanese in order to pay the price of ambitions … and political upheavals? … Lebanon has reached the brink of explosion after the collapse.”
“Social conditions are exacerbating, financial conditions are pressing strongly, and political conditions are getting more complex,” he added. “The country is facing enormous challenges that a normal government cannot face without political consensus, so how can a caretaker government face these challenges?”
France 24 / Reuters