BEIRUT: Lebanese protesters on Thursday vowed to step up their peaceful demonstrations despite political moves to form a new government.
President Michel Aoun has set next Monday for binding parliamentary consultations to officially name a prime minister to head a new administration for the country.
Caretaker premier, Saad Hariri, who quit in October amid protests over political corruption and economic hardships, has said he will not take part in the new government but is backing businessman Samir Khatib to replace him.
However, many protesters in the Lebanese civil movement, which on Thursday marked 50 days of demonstrations, are unhappy with Hariri’s choice for PM and have pledged to escalate their action throughout Lebanon.
One activist, Dr. Ziad Abdel Samad, told Arab News: “Protesters are absolutely against the naming of Samir Khatib as the future PM. They consider that he dealt with the country’s corruption system and its icons.
“He was tested by Hezbollah and Amal’s representatives in power and by the leader of the Free Patriotic Movement, Gebran Bassil, before agreeing on his name.
“Protests are headed toward a greater escalation until a clean person comes along. The crisis is caused by corruption, so how can the same parties regain power through different faces? People are angry and disgusted and want independent personalities,” he said.
Another activist, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “The different groups of the civil movement refuse to see the appointment of Khatib as head of the government because he is part of the structure benefiting from this system. We are asking authorities to replace a certain mindset, not swap faces. We want an independent government.”
He said protesters were undecided on their plan of action for Monday’s crunch meeting, with some groups proposing to stop deputies from reaching the presidential palace and blocking all of Lebanon’s roads, while others preferred to await the outcome. “It is true that people do not trust any person chosen by the current authority, but we must wait until this person proves the contrary.”
On the economic crisis gripping the country, the activist added: “Those in power bear the responsibility for what may happen. They insist stubbornly on their mindset and are yet to be convinced of the need to change their way of thinking. They have not presented a different model.
“What has taken place so far (the civilian protests) is an organized revolution. The people who haven’t taken to the streets to protest haven’t lost anything yet, but when people go hungry and see that their state has been disregarded, they will definitely take to the streets.”