BEIRUT: Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun on Wednesday asked the cabinet to continue in a caretaker role until a new government is formed, following the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri on Tuesday.
Hariri’s resignation toppled his coalition government. He said he had hit a “dead end” in trying to resolve a crisis unleashed by 13 days of protests against the ruling elite.
Meanwhile, the banking association said Lebanese banks will resume normal operations and receive customers on Friday, ending a two-week-long closure caused by massive protests against the country's ruling politicians.
"Thursday will be dedicated to internal work to complete (a backlog) of operations and to prepare to receive customers starting Friday morning," the banking association said in a statement.
Earlier on Wednesday, Lebanese soldiers and security officials urged protesters to open blocked roads so life could return to normal after 13 days demonstrations paralyzed the country and forced the prime minister to resign.
Troops cleared one major route north of Beirut after briefly scuffling with demonstrators in the morning. A group of soldiers tried to pick up a vehicle blocking the highway before it drove off, Al-Jadeed television footage showed.
At the Ring Bridge in the center of the capital, a security officer tried to persuade crowds to clear the way to nearby hospitals. “I am staying here,” one woman told Reuters as she spread blankets across the road.
Saad Al-Hariri resigned as Lebanon’s prime minister on Tuesday, toppling his coalition government. He said he had hit a “dead end” in trying to resolve the crisis unleashed by the huge protests against the ruling elite.
In a statement, the army command said people had a right to protest, but that applied “in public squares only.”
The main protest camp in a square in the center of the capital was quiet but was closed to traffic by security forces.
Hariri made his resignation speech after a crowd loyal to the Shiite Muslim Hezbollah and Amal movements attacked and destroyed a camp in central Beirut.
It was the most serious strife on the streets of Beirut since 2008, when Hezbollah fighters seized control of the capital in a brief eruption of armed conflict with Lebanese adversaries loyal to Hariri and his allies at the time.
The departure of Hariri, who has been traditionally backed by the West and Sunni Gulf Arab allies, pushes Lebanon into unpredictable political territory.
The protests have compounded Lebanon’s already serious economic woes and banks kept their doors shut on Wednesday.