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Saudi clown Hariri moves to address nation amid public anger with corruption

Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Hariri has delivered a speech addressing recent protests driven by grievances against corruption and economic woes. He has given a 72-hour ultimatum for "partners in the government" to exhibit determination in bringing about "real reforms."

Speaking on Friday, the premier said Lebanon was going through an “unprecedented, difficult time” and that efforts to enact reforms had been blocked by others in the government.

Hariri warned that he would “have something else to say” if the obstruction of the reforms, covering areas such as the government’s budget and the country’s power sector, endured beyond the deadline.

He did not, however, specify which partners in the government had inhibited the intended economic reforms or what action he would take if his demands were not met.

Some observers have speculated that the prime minster may intend to resign.

The speech came after Hariri canceled a cabinet meeting on the 2020 budget scheduled earlier on Friday.

Hariri made the remakes shortly after tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets across Lebanon for a second day of protests on Friday.

The demonstrators, who blocked roads and burned tires, carried banners and chanted slogans calling for the government to resign.

Beirut International Airport, along with the residences of some politicians, was also blocked off by protests in the capital, according to media reports.

Two foreign workers died after inhaling smoke from a fire that spread to a building near the protest scene in Beirut.

Later in the day, two people were also killed and four others were injured after bodyguards accompanying a former Lebanese lawmaker opened fire on a protest in the northern city of Tripoli, according to a security source.

The public discontent gained momentum on Thursday, with demonstrators gathering outside the government headquarters in central Beirut. They clashed with police.

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Protest in Lebanon over tax hike planScores of people are protesting in Beirut over the government’s plans to impose new taxes amid a harsh economic crisis in the country.

The Thursday protests forced the government to withdraw a proposed tax on WhatsApp voice calls, one of many new taxes being examined to be introduced in the 2020 budget.

The protesters are frustrated with rising inflation and living costs as the government struggles to attract revenue amid increasing economic hardships and a decreasing capital flow to Lebanon. They blame the faltering economy on widespread corruption and abuse of privileges among politicians.

Recent calls for the resignation of the ruling elite have spanned the diversified political landscape, with protesters of different backgrounds calling for the resignation of Hariri, President Michel Aoun and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri.

Observers believe the unified protests against the government, which includes all the main parties, signify deep anger among the Lebanese.

Despite having party-affiliated ministers in the coalition cabinet, leading Christian politician Samir Geagea and Druz politician Walid Jumblatt have also called for the government’s resignation.

‘Foreign pressure’

Speaking on Friday, Lebanon’s Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil warned that he will resign if the government fails to approve a budget before October 31.

The foreign minister also warned of a “fifth column” seeking to provoke further tension in these heady days. He did not further elaborate on the subject.

Leader of the Arab Tawhid Party We’am Wahhab also claimed that “foreign elements” were seeking to pressure Hariri to resign.

Increasing financial pressure on Lebanon comes as US sanctions allegedly targeting individuals and international organizations that do business with the Hezbollah resistance movement have had a negative effect on the country’s economy.

Riyadh, which has welcomed the US sanctions, issued a notice on Friday, calling for its citizens to leave the country.

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