Secretary-General of Lebanese Hezbollah Hassan Nasrallah said on Saturday that his party does not support the resignation of Lebanon’s government, but supports the current government with “a new agenda and a new spirit.”
Nasrallah said in a televised speech that whoever runs away from responsibility should be held accountable by the Lebanese people, “especially those who have had roles in previous governments.”
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Friday addressed the recent protests that have swept across the country, some of which call for his resignation.
In a televised speech Hariri gave his “partners in the government” 72 hours to back a reform package aimed at shoring up the government’s finances and securing the disbursement of desperately needed economic assistance from donors.
On Thursday protests sparked across the country, calling on the Lebanese government to resign after unpopular new tax proposals, including fees on WhatsApp calls. The demonstrators’ chants call for all government leaders including Hariri, President Michel Aoun, and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri to step down.
“The country is going through an unprecedented, difficult time,” Hariri said on Friday, adding that reforms do not necessarily mean more taxes.
As the protests entered their third day Nasrallah condemned new taxes, saying that the recent protests prove to authorities that the Lebanese people cannot handle any more taxes or fees.
If new taxes are imposed on the poor, “we will go down to the streets,” Nasrallah said.
The proposed taxes come as Lebanon’s worsening economic crisis has led to an alleged shortage of US dollars within Lebanon’s highly dollarized economy. The unofficial exchange rate has soared above the authorized trading band of LBP 1,501-1,514 to the dollar, causing fears of bread and fuel shortages.
In the speech Nasrallah also warned Lebanese political authorities pressuring the government to resign.
“Do not bother doing so, you are not capable of that,” said Nasrallah, adding that if the government resigns it could take a year or two to form a new government and that time is short.
The night before Hariri directly addressed government officials, blaming them for holding up reforms and causing the protests.
“We can no longer wait for our partners in government to start working on the solution,” Hariri said.
Nasrallah said that everyone in Lebanon should claim responsibility of the dangerous situation the country is facing.
Nasrallah, who has been Secretary General of Hezbollah since 1992, does not hold a government post in the Lebanese government.
Hariri currently heads a multi-party government which includes his Future Party movement and rivals the Hezbollah and the Future Patriotic Movement.