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Head of Lebanese pro-US party orders ministers to resign from cabinet

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (R) meets with Christian Lebanese Forces Party leader Samir Geagea at the US ambassador's residence in Aaoukar, north of the Lebanese capital Beirut, on March 22, 2019. (AFP photo)

A Lebanese political party with links to the United States and Saudi Arabia has ordered its ministers to resign from the government of Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri amid growing protests on the streets against corruption.

The Lebanese Forces (LF), a parliamentary bloc with four ministers in the government, said on Saturday that the party had reached the conclusion after a meeting in the village of Maarab that Hariri’s government was no longer capable of solving the economic problems of the country.

LF leader Samir Geagea said in a televised speech from the party’s headquarters that he had ordered the four ministers to leave Hariri’s cabinet by submitting their resignation.

Geagea said the decision was meant to pave the way for the formation of a new government, adding that the current administration lacked the “intention” to carry out reforms demanded by protesters on the streets.

The move comes after days of demonstrations in Lebanon, a country beset by deep political rivalries.

LF and Geagea are known for their close affiliation to the West and Saudi Arabia, a country that has sought to increase its sway in Lebanon mainly to block the rise of Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah.

Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said on Saturday that he was against any move to settle political scores at the time of financial hardships that has fueled the protests.

Nasrallah said Hariri’s government was supposed to remain in office and shoulder responsibility for the current problems.

The comments came after some sources said Hariri, also close to Saudi Arabia, is planning to resign in the face of the protests.

Both Hariri and Geagea have denied reports they are staging the resignations to pressure other parties, including Hezbollah, to accept their demands in future.

On Saturday, Lebanon witnessed renewed protests with security forces firing tear gas and water cannons to disperse a huge gathering in Beirut’s central Riyadh al-Solh Square.

The Internal Security Forces said 70 protesters were arrested.

The Lebanese army has also been deployed to control the demonstrations. The troops opened a number of major highways that had been blocked by the protesters.

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