On Tuesday, Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced his resignation, which President Michel Aoun has since accepted. Hariri’s entire cabinet has resigned along with him.
Protestors who took to the streets on October 17 called for this resignation after a proposed tax on the social media platform WhatsApp. The protests have brought parts of Lebanese life to a halt. Some people are unable to travel to work while others can make it through checkpoints and cautiously continue their day-to-day activities.
Pierre Houssney, executive director of Horizons International, says Hariri’s resignation is a move in the right direction. However, Lebanon is not out of the woods yet.
Lebanon essentially has three presidents, Houssney says. The first is the president of the nation, who is always a Maronite Christian. President Michel Aoun currently holds this position. Then, there is the president of the government, or as it translates into English, the prime minister. The prime minister is in charge of the cabinet.
Finally, the third president presides over parliament and is also referred to as the speaker of parliament. This position is currently held by Nabih Berri. (Learn more about Lebanon’s government structure HERE.)
“When a prime minister resigns, the next step is that the president would appoint a new prime minister and form a new cabinet. But, that’s not exactly in-line with the demands of the protestors,” Houssney explains.
“Because the demands of the protestors are that the president himself would also resign and that the president of the parliament would resign as well, and that there would be early elections for a new parliament, which would be elected of all non-sectarian candidates, and that then they would vote to have a new president and a new prime minister and a new cabinet.”
If Lebanon’s president and speaker of parliament remain in power and choose the next prime minister, the protestors’ demands will internationally appear to be met, even though little has changed.
But this isn’t just about politics; protestors have revealed not only a desire for change, but an openness to interfaith conversations.
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SOURCE: Mission Network News, Bethann Flynn