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Aoun says Lebanese gov't must include politicians, urges protesters to go home

Lebanese President Michel Aoun in Beirut, Lebanon on 24 October 2019 [Presidency of Lebanon/Anadolu Agency]
Lebanese President Michel Aoun in Beirut, Lebanon on 24 October 2019 [Presidency of Lebanon/Anadolu Agency]

President Michel Aoun said on Tuesday a government made up purely of technocrats would not be able to run Lebanon and so it must include politicians, adding he had found Saad al-Hariri hesitant about taking the job of prime minister again, reports Reuters.

In a televised interview, Aoun urged protesters who have taken to the streets across Lebanon for four weeks to go home, warning of a catastrophe if they did not.

As his interview ended, protesters blocked several highways across Lebanon, some with burning tires.

"If you continue in this way, you will strike Lebanon and your interests … I am placing you in front of this choice," Aoun said. "We are working day and night to get the situation in order. If they keep going, there is a catastrophe. If they stop, there is still room for (us) to fix things," he said.

READ: UN urges Lebanon to build gov't of 'competence'

Hariri quit as prime minister on October 29 in the face of the unprecedented wave of protests against ruling politicians who are widely perceived to have overseen rampant state corruption and steered Lebanon into a major economic crisis.

Lebanon was already facing the worst economic crisis since its 1975-90 civil war when the protests erupted on October 17, plunging it deeper into turmoil. Lebanon's banks and schools were shut again on Tuesday in a new wave of disruption.

The United Nations urged Lebanon to form a competent new government better able to seek international aid after weeks of protests against the ruling elite, warning the country was in a critical financial and economic situation.

Indicating no breakthrough in talks over the next government, Aoun said he was still waiting for answers before calling formal consultations with MPs to designate the next prime minister.

"A technocrat government cannot define the policy of the country…and I back forming a government that is half political and half technocrat," Aoun said. "I met Hariri and I found him hesitant between yes and no."

Protests in Lebanon - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Protests in Lebanon – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

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