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As Lebanese PM lays out reform package, protesters demand more

Although the Lebanese government has unveiled a set of reforms to calm popular protests, it appears unlikely the proposal will satisfy demonstrators' demands.
Demonstrators carry Lebanese flags during ongoing anti-government protests at a highway in Jal el-Dib, Lebanon October 23, 2019. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir - RC16EC6EC900

On Oct. 21, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri unveiled a set of reforms and a new government budget for 2020 in a televised address to the Lebanese public, which have been staging some of the largest demonstrations the country has seen in decades. The speech came shortly before the 72-hour deadline Hariri had set for himself and his Cabinet to pass much-needed economic and fiscal measures, and included cuts to ministers’ salaries, several billion dollars in revenue from banks to reduce the budget deficit, and the passage of laws to return embezzled funds to the public, among others.

Hariri’s Cabinet approved the reforms the same day, and also approved a budget for 2020 that reportedly cuts Lebanon’s deficit down to 0.6% of gross domestic product. But despite the reportedly ambitious nature of the Cabinet’s measures, demonstrators across Lebanon have refused to accept them, and various countrywide protest movements came together on Oct. 22 and 23 to put forward a unified list of demands that call for the resignation of the entire government along with early elections.

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