Lebanon: Aoun calls to lift bank secrecy from ministers

BEIRUT

Lebanese President Michel Aoun on Monday called for lifting banking secrecy from current and future ministers amid mass protests against government plans for tax increases. 

“What is happening in the streets reflects people’s pain, but generalizing corruption (charges) against everyone carries big injustice,” Aoun said during a cabinet meeting.

Lebanon has been rocked by mass protests since last week, which broke out against government plans to tax calls on Whatsapp and other messaging services.

Although the government dropped the plans, the demonstrations have expanded into wider calls for reform.

Prime Minister Saad Hariri has blamed his coalition government partners for obstructing economic reforms that could resolve the crisis and gave them a 72-hour deadline to stop blocking him, otherwise hinting he may resign.

Hariri is expected to give a speech later Monday following the cabinet meeting.

On Saturday, the Christian Lebanese Forces party said its four ministers in the government would resign with party leader Samir Geagea calling for drawing up a new cabinet.

The resignations came hours after Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said his group was against the government’s resignation.

Lebanon has one of the world’s highest debt burdens at $86.2 billion in the first quarter of this year. This accompanied by high youth unemployment that has brought people on the edge.

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