Lebanese protesters take to Beirut’s Riad al-Solh Square on October 21, the fifth straight day of nationwide demonstrations against the government’s economic policies. (Anwar Amro/AFP via Getty Images)

Lebanese PM Announces New Policies, but Protesters Seem Unimpressed

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri appeared live on television Monday to announce to the nation that his cabinet had decided on new policies aimed at reducing a staggering foreign debt while improving a stagnant economy that has sent unemployment soaring. The moves include a new budget with much lower deficit spending than originally proposed, and no new taxes. It was a newly instated tax on the use of such Internet-based communication apps as WhatsApp that sent hundreds of thousands of people into the streets last week to vent their frustrations. In announcing the moves, Hariri seemed to be saying he’d understand if they did not satisfy the protesters. “The decisions that we made today might not fulfil your goals, but for sure they achieve what I have been seeking for two years,” he said during the broadcast. “I am not going to ask you to stop protesting and stop expressing your anger. This is a decision that you take.” Following his announcement, the street protests showed no immediate signs of abating.

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