As Protests Erupt on the Streets, Marwan Charbel Asks: “How Could the Central Government Respond to these Demands?”

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As pressure mounts on the people and their patience being tested with a relentless rise in cost of living, protestors burning tires and blocking roads seems to be expected, especially with the dollar exchange rate reaching 10,000L.L/USD. This massive increase coincided with spontaneous movements all across Lebanon seen this morning; some of which included several run ins by the protestors with the Lebanese army. Commenting on the matter, former Minister of Interior Marwan Charbel, speaking to Janoubia, held the central government accountable for the ongoing collapse, calling on the resigned cabinet to hold an emergency meeting.

As the situation develops, protests continue to escalate uniformly along the scope of shared demands of economic security. It has become clear why: “Protestors in the south (Tyre and Nabatieh) and the southern suburbs of Beirut (Mecharafiye) are lagging behind those in areas such as Ghazir, Jal El-Dib, and Dora in chanting against the President calling for his resignation. Informed soures spoke to Janoubia about: “Political messages being reciprocated from opposing areas politically, for what can be said in terms of political slogans in one area does not apply in other areas. However, if the common factor was the concern over livelihood and food security, political parties will not hesitate in capitalizing on the people’s demands and concerns and direct them to where their own interests lie. Perhaps later on, using them to cater for their own whims.”

The authorities today are incapable of responding to the demands of the people. The black market rate for the dollar is unchecked and cannot be contained, and the availability of fuel, flour, and other basic necessities is at stake. Facing this reality, Charbel said: “ Have you seen a different response than the one today, you would have been surprised. Today, we cannot ask the employee, the worker, the student, the soldier, and the people in general to calm down without offering them any solutions that would bring relief to the crises plaguing the country.” Adding that: “The system exists, but the current political regime is not following the constitution, nor are they attempting to seek a consensus.”

Charbel asked: “How can the ruling class respond to these public demands? Starting from high prices that brought upon hunger or justice for the victims of the port explosions; how will they answer the question about embezzled state funds?! Even if people do not take to the streets or express their anger and discontent, where is the conscience of those responsible in this matter? Haven’t they felt the people’s hunger yet? What exactly are they waiting for?!”

Charbel finally called on the government to convene quickly, saying: “Even if the government is officially resigned, today we are facing an exceptional crisis and a critical situation!” He also called on officials to: “Forgo their interests and egos.” Charbel urged the protesters to be civilized and not to sabotage and create chaos. Charbel lamented the fact that: “The outside world is more interested in our tragedy and pain than our own officials who are languishing in their palaces and resting firmly upon their thrones.”

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