In Lebanon, the resignation of the prime minister is not enough to extinguish the dispute

The resignation of Mr. Hariri was followed by the lifting of almost all the barricades erected by the protesters on the roads, suggesting a subsidence of the movement. PATRICK BAZ / AFP

In Lebanon nothing seems to be able to stop the surge of unprecedented contestation against power, accused of corruption and incompetence. Two days after the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri, President Michel Aoun on Thursday (October 31st) called for the formation of a government composed of ministers chosen for their "Competencies".

Launched on October 17, the movement, which took the ruling parties by surprise, mobilized tens of thousands of Lebanese in several parts of the country and led to the resignation of the government on Tuesday.

In a televised speech, Aoun called for the formation of a cabinet "Competent" and "Productive", while Lebanon is going through a serious economic crisis, partly at the origin of the uprising.

"Ministers will have to be chosen according to their skills, not their political allegiances (…) especially as Lebanon is at a critical juncture, especially in economic terms, and desperately needs a harmonious government capable of being productive "said Aoun.

The Head of State, who spoke on the occasion of the 3e anniversary of his accession to the presidency, undertook to "Continue the fight against corruption" and to work for the formation of a cabinet capable of responding to "Aspirations of the Lebanese (…) and realize what the previous government has failed " to do.

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Thousands of protesters gathered again

Hardly the speech ended, the demonstrators massed in the center of Beirut chanted "All means all! ", a key slogan of the protest expressing the wish of the protesters to see all the ruling leaders leave, without exception.

"Get out, get out, you've starved everyone! " and "The people want the fall of the regime! " also shouted the protesters who followed the speech live, broadcast on a giant screen.

Some schools and universities remained closed on Thursday, and thousands of demonstrators gathered again in the early evening across the country.

Earlier in the day, negotiations for the formation of a new government appeared to be stalled as calls for a cabinet of technocrats and early parliamentary elections increased.

"There is no question of giving up", said Tarek Badoun, 38, posted on the expressway that runs through Beirut.

Protesters unanimously describe the ruling class as corrupt in a country on the verge of economic collapse and still plagued by chronic shortages of water and electricity thirty years after the end of the civil war (1975-1990).

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Blockages have resumed

The resignation of Mr. Hariri was followed by the lifting of almost all the barricades erected by the protesters on the roads, suggesting a subsidence of the movement.

But blockades and rallies have resumed, especially in Tripoli, the big city of the north became one of the spearheads of the dispute.

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The Lebanese press speculates on the possible scenarios of a way out of the crisis: Mr. Hariri would be ready to take over a government provided he is composed of technocrats or indisputable personalities.

The powerful Hezbollah, pro-Iranian, allied with the president, had clearly pronounced against a fall of the government in which his influence was preponderant and would be opposed to a cabinet of technocrats.

Lebanon, a small multi-community country, is governed by a complex political system guaranteeing fragile confessional balances. It has been ruled for decades by the same political parties and families, who often represent their religious community.

This governance regime, based on consensus, has been vulnerable to many failures on the reform front and endless negotiations for the formation of governments. It took more than eight months to set up the previous government.

But, says the political scientist Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, Lebanon can no longer afford such luxury. It must, she says, "A government capable of rapidly stabilizing an economic situation that has become out of control and that can bring urgent reforms" to try to calm the street.

France, the former powerful power (1920-1943) still influential in Lebanon, was again worried about the situation, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian, judging 'essential (…) that a government be quickly formed that is able to carry out the reforms that the country needs ".

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