Hezbollah leader Nasrallah: Lebanon’s next government must heed protesters

Supporters of Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Lebanon's militant Shiite Hezbollah movement, watch him speak through a giant screen at a mosque in the Lebanese capital Beirut's southern suburbs on Friday. (AFP)
Updated 01 November 2019

Hezbollah leader Nasrallah: Lebanon’s next government must heed protesters

  • Massive protests pushed PM Hariri to resign
  • Group urges forming new cabinet quickly

BEIRUT: The leader of Shiite group Hezbollah said on Friday a new Lebanese government must listen to the demands that fueled protests against the country’s rulers and led Saad Al-Hariri to quit as prime minister.

Hariri’s resignation has left Lebanon without a government as it faces the worst economic crisis since the 1975-90 civil war. Hezbollah, a heavily armed group backed by Iran, had opposed the resignation of the coalition of which it was part.

“A new government must be formed as soon as possible ... and the new government must listen to the demands of the people who took to the streets,” Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said in a televised address.

“There must be serious work because time is tight and so is people’s patience,” he said, adding that the government’s goal must be to restore confidence.

The unprecedented, nationwide protests that erupted on Oct. 17 tipped Lebanon into political turmoil at a time when it was already grappling with dire economic conditions and strains in its financial system.

Lebanese banks, which had been closed since Oct. 18, reopened on Friday, with queues building and customers encountering new curbs on transfers abroad and withdrawals from US dollar accounts.

Though no formal controls were imposed, banks told customers they could only transfer funds abroad in particular circumstances such repaying loans, education, health, family support or commercial commitments.

An hour after doors opened, dozens people of people were waiting at some banks in Beirut and other cities, Reuters witnesses said. At others, fewer were waiting.

The Association of Banks in Lebanon praised the public for acting “responsibly.” The Lebanese pound strengthened against the dollar on the parallel market that has emerged in recent months, three dealers said.

The central bank had promised not to impose capital controls when banks re-opened, measures that could hamper the currency inflows and investment that Lebanon badly needs.

Asked about steps being taken by banks, banking association chief Salim Sfeir said: “I would not call it restrictions but rather efforts by the banks to accommodate all customers, given the pressure resulting from closing for two weeks.”

“We stand ready to adjust any measure taken, once the situation in the country is back to normal,” he told Reuters.

Iran hands over Yemen embassy to Houthi militia

Updated 21 November 2019

Iran hands over Yemen embassy to Houthi militia

  • Aboul Gheit condemned Iran’s step considering it a flagrant violation

DUBAI: Iran handed over the state’s Yemen embassy to the Houthi militia which have resulted to criticisms, state news agency SPA reported on Wednesday.

The Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit condemned Iran’s step considering it a flagrant violation of diplomatic norms and of the United Nations Charter, the Vienna Convention, and the relevant Security Council resolutions - in particular Resolution 2216.

The move, he added, also reflects an Iranian insistence to destabilize Yemen’s conditions, and threaten the security of its neighbouring countries.