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Hezbollah chief supports Lebanon government amid protests

People shout slogans during a commemoration event for Mustafa Badreddine, a soldier of Hezbollah killed in Syria, as Secretary-General of Hezbollah Hassan Nasrallah live broadcasts in Dahieh district of Beirut, Lebanon on 11 May, 2017 [Ratib Al Safadi/Anadolu Agency]
People shout slogans during a commemoration event for Mustafa Badreddine, a soldier of Hezbollah killed in Syria, as Secretary-General of Hezbollah Hassan Nasrallah live broadcasts in Dahieh district of Beirut, Lebanon on 11 May, 2017 [Ratib Al Safadi/Anadolu Agency]

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said Saturday his group was not demanding the resignation of the Lebanese government amid mass protests against plans to impose new taxes.

“The problem is not with the government, but with the agenda,” Nasrallah said in his first comments on the protests.

Tens of thousands took to the streets in Lebanon on Friday to protest government plans to impose fees on calls over Whatsapp and similar applications.

Nasrallah said the demonstrations showed that the Lebanese people, particularly the poor, can’t bear the brunt of new taxes.

Read: 52 security officers injured in Lebanon protests

Lebanese prime minister, Saad Al-Hariri, cancelled the cabinet meeting which planned to take place on Friday, amidst calls for him to resign, Lebanese mass media reported.

Hariri declared a 72-hour ultimatum for his partners in government, to announce their support for reformations and anti-corruption plans, which were already agreed upon.

During his statement, Nasrallah added:

If the current government, or any other government, takes practical steps by ending wastage and corruption and merging institutions, it will save a lot and the crisis will end

The Hezbollah leader went on to call for adopting a “plan in which the rich, poor, leaders and banks would sacrifice to end the crisis”.

Lebanon has one of the world’s highest debt burdens at $86.2 billion in the first quarter of this year. This accompanied by high youth unemployment that has brought people on the edge.

Read: Lebanon backtracks hours after imposing taxes on internet calls

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