The Latest: German FM fears ‘political vacuum’ in Lebanon
BEIRUT (AP) — The Latest on the anti-government protests in Lebanon (all times local):
Germany’s foreign minister has expressed concern about the political turmoil in Lebanon, warning of a “political vacuum.”
Heiko Maas told reporters in Cairo Tuesday that: “It is of paramount importance that the stability in Beirut does not continue to suffer ... We don’t need a political vacuum, especially not in the current situation.”
Maas remarks came after Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced his resignation following nearly two weeks of mass demonstrations in the country.
The German foreign minister said that the further political development in Lebanon “is of very critical importance for us, but also for the entire region” and that he hopes the protests will be peaceful.
France’s foreign minister says the priority for Lebanon is to preserve stability, as the country is in “a very serious crisis” after nearly two weeks of anti-government protests.
Speaking at the lower house of the French parliament Tuesday, Jean-Yves Le Drian called on the country’s political leaders to “do everything to guarantee the stability of institutions and the unity of Lebanon, that’s indispensable.”
Lebanon’s embattled prime minister, Saad Hariri, submitted his resignation earlier Tuesday. The nationwide protest movement is calling for Hariri’s government to resign and to overthrow the political class that’s dominated the country since its 1975-1990 civil war.
Le Drian said France hopes the demands of the Lebanese people will be heard.
He suggested that political leaders should put the country’s collective interest above their own particular interests.
France, Lebanon’s former colonial ruler, remains a major player in Lebanese politics.
Lebanon’s embattled prime minister says he is handing in his resignation to the president after he hit a “dead end” amid nationwide anti-government protests.
Saad Hariri spoke Tuesday after nearly two weeks of nationwide mass demonstrations. Protesters are calling for the resignation of the government and the overthrow of the political class that’s dominated the country since its 1975-1990 civil war.
Hariri’s comments were quickly cheered by the few protesters who had returned to the epicenter of the protests in central Beirut.
A mob had broken up the protest camp shortly before Hariri spoke, tensions that reflected the division among politicians over how to handle the crisis.
Hariri called on all Lebanese to protect civil peace and prevent further economic deterioration.
He said he will present his resignation to President Michel Aoun.
Hezbollah supporters have attacked and ransacked the main anti-government protest site in the Lebanese capital, tearing down tents and smashing chairs.
Angry groups of men, some of them wielding sticks, began scuffling with protesters who were blocking roads in Beirut early Tuesday. Some of the men chanted slogans praising Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the militant Hezbollah group, who has criticized the anti-government protests.
Groups of men could be seen massing near main protest sites as Lebanese security forces moved quickly to try to separate them from the protesters. The protesters could be seen taking up metal poles and wooden batons.
The unrest flared on the 13th day of mass protests directed at Lebanon’s government and political elite, who the protesters accuse of corruption and incompetence.
Angry Lebanese men wielding sticks have attacked dozens of anti-government protesters blocking a main Beirut thoroughfare, prompting riot police to move in to separate them.
Tuesday’s confrontation took place on a thoroughfare linking eastern and western Beirut. As the angry crowd swelled, some used sticks to push protesters sitting on the asphalt.
It comes on day 13 of anti-government protests, an unprecedented united expression of anger at what demonstrators call a corrupt and inefficient political class in power for decades.
The protesters have called on the government to step down, holding rallies in public squares, and promoting a civil disobedience campaign that includes blocking main roads.
But in recent days, criticism has surfaced of the roadblocks, particularly from opponents of the protests who accuse the demonstrators of paralyzing the country.