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Lebanon's PM-designate steps down as political crisis escalates

Lebanon's Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri stepped down Thursday amid months of deadlock and years-long turmoil over the country's economic collapse.

Driving the news: His departure sinks the chances of forming a government to pursue immediate reforms for recovery, per AP, and is likely to bring greater instability to Lebanon.


  • Supporters of Hariri, one of Lebanon’s most prominent Sunni Muslim leaders, and other protesters blocked roads and set fire to tires in parts of Beirut following the news.
  • Troops fired rubber-coated steel bullets and used armored vehicles to force open roads to disperse protests, while demonstrators threw stones at soldiers, Al Jazeera reports.
  • There is no clear candidate to replace Hariri, who cited "key differences" with the president.
[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2F7vX2SHBV2k0KSUzxMikxUBDhGf8%3D%2F2021%2F07%2F16%2F1626397130107.jpg&ho=https%3A%2F%2Fimages.axios.com&s=67&h=e0ca1b6479aaab6641b457e2f419fd6caa64512a7a499f17dc78ec10fbe79305&size=980x&c=3400506310 crop_info="%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252F7vX2SHBV2k0KSUzxMikxUBDhGf8%253D%252F2021%252F07%252F16%252F1626397130107.jpg%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fimages.axios.com%26s%3D67%26h%3De0ca1b6479aaab6641b457e2f419fd6caa64512a7a499f17dc78ec10fbe79305%26size%3D980x%26c%3D3400506310%22%7D" expand=1]
Protesters confront Lebanese soldiers during a demonstration in Beirut. Photo: Marwan Naamani/Picture alliance via Getty Images

Catch up quick: Lebanon has not had a working government since Prime Minister Hassan Diab's Cabinet resigned days after a deadly explosion last August. Protesters blamed the disaster, which killed more than 211 people, injured 6,000 and left roughly 250,000 homeless, on the ruling elite's corruption.

What they're saying: "I have excused myself from forming the government," Hariri said after a 20-minute meeting with President Michel Aoun, according to AP. "May God help the country."

  • Under the country's sectarian-based political system, the prime minister comes from the Sunni community.
  • Hariri told Al-Jadeed TV that he doesn't plan to endorse a replacement.
  • Aoun has said he will consult with parliamentary blocs.

Hariri's resignation is "yet another disappointing development for the Lebanese people," U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

  • "The Lebanese economy is in free-fall, and the current government is not providing basic services in a reliable fashion," he added. "It is critical that a government committed and able to implement priority reforms be formed now."

Worth noting: The national currency dropped to a new low on Thursday. The Lebanese pound, which has been pegged to the dollar for 30 years, lost more than 90% of its value, AP reports.

The big picture: Lebanon has undergone one of the world's worst economic collapses in history since 2019.

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