Protests sweep Lebanon as fury at ruling elite grows over economic corruption
19/10/2019 10:13, BEIRUT/Lebanon

(TAP) - Security forces fired tear gas and chased down protesters in Beirut on Friday after tens of thousands of people across Lebanon marched to demand the demise of a political elite they accuse of looting the economy to the point of collapse.

Riot police in vehicles and on foot rounded up protesters, according to Reuters witnesses. They fired rubber bullets and tear gas canisters, dispersing demonstrators in Beirut's commercial district. Dozens of people were wounded and detained.

Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri blamed his partners in government for obstructing reforms that could ward off economic crisis and gave them a 72-hour deadline to stop blocking him, otherwise hinting he may resign.

Hariri, addressing protesters, said Lebanon was going through an "unprecedented, difficult time".

Lebanon's biggest protests in a decade recall the 2011 Arab revolts that toppled four presidents. Lebanese from all sects and walks of life have come out on to the streets, waving banners and chanting slogans urging Hariri's government to go.

The rallies follow warnings by economists and investors that Lebanon's economy and graft-riddled financial system are closer to the brink than at any time since the war-torn 1980s.

"There are those who have placed obstacles in front of me ... and in the face of all the efforts that I have proposed for reform," Hariri said, without naming names.

"Whatever the solution, we no longer have time and I am personally giving myself only a little time. Either our partners in government and in the nation give a frank response to the solution, or I will have another say," he said.

"The deadline left is very short. It's 72 hours."

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