Beirut,Thousands of peaceful protesters are celebrating the resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri in the center of the capital, a Sputnik correspondent reported from Beirut on Tuesday.
Protesters continue to arrive in the city center. Civilians complimented each other on the prime minister's departure and shouted anti-governmental slogans. Activists pitched new tents on the roads.
Hariri previously said in a televised address Tuesday that he would resign after nearly two weeks of massive anti-government protests and dissolve the government.
"We do not plan to halt peaceful demonstrations. We will leave when real changes in the system of governance take place," one of the protesters told Sputnik.
Protesters continue to block roads and highways throughout the country.
Less than an hour before Hariri's announcement, dozens of unidentified people with sticks attacked peaceful demonstrators in central Beirut, shouting Shiite slogans, breaking tents and other makeshift structures and injuring both protesters and journalists. Additional riot police and army forces gathered at the scene of the riots to ensure protesters' security.
Lebanese citizens took to the streets on October 17 when the government announced tax hikes on internet calls, about $6 per month, and tobacco, about $1.3 on imported packs, $0.5 on local ones, in an attempt to salvage a deteriorating economy. Although the government quickly scrapped the plan, the demonstrations have since ballooned into widespread demands for the resignation of the government and political reforms.
The first wave of protests began in April and lasted until May. Trade unions took to the streets after the government's decision to adopt the 2019 budget that included clauses on wage and social benefits cuts for civil servants and retired military. In late July the government adopted compromise amendments to calm the public.
The economic and financial situation in Lebanon is still undergoing a crisis. According to Lebanese President Michel Aoun, the country suffers from financial blockade and sanctions. There is a shortage of currency in the banking sector. Banks limited the issue of dollars, affecting gas stations, flour mills and other businesses that make transactions in dollars, as well as regular citizens.