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Lebanese president asks Hariri to head caretaker cabinet despite resignation

Lebanese President Michel Aoun (L) meeting with Prime Minister Saad Hariri at the presidential palace in Baabda, east of the capital Beirut, on October 21, 2019.
Lebanese President Michel Aoun (L) meeting with Prime Minister Saad Hariri at the presidential palace in Baabda, east of the capital Beirut, on October 21, 2019. Dalati and Nohra, AFP.

Lebanon's president on Wednesday acknowledged the government's resignation following almost two weeks of unprecedented protests but asked it to stay on until a new cabinet is formed.

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Michel Aoun "asked the government to continue to conduct affairs until a new cabinet is formed", his office said in a statement.

He said the measure followed the constitutional provision for cases in which the Lebanese government steps down.

Lebanese banks will resume normal operations and receive customers on Friday, the banking association said, ending a two-week-long closure caused by massive protests against the country’s ruling politicians.

“Thursday will be dedicated to internal work to complete (a backlog) of operations and to prepare to receive customers starting Friday morning,” the banking association said in a statement.

Proposed phone tax scrapped

Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced his cabinet's resignation on Tuesday, the 13th day of a wave of protests triggered by a proposed tax on calls via free phone applications.

Even though that proposal was then scrapped, the demonstrations swelled into a broad cross-sectarian call for an end to a political system viewed as corrupt and inefficient.

Many of the country's ruling elite hail from political parties or families that have been in power since the end of the 1975-1990 civil war.

It is unclear what a new government would look like and whether it would include independent technocrats as demanded by the demonstrators.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)

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