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Hezbollah: Lebanon’s next government must heed the protesters’ demands

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — Lebanon’s Shi’ite Muslim guerrilla group Hezbollah said on Friday any new Lebanese government should heed demands that fueled protests against the country’s rulers and led to the resignation of Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri.

Hariri’s resignation left Lebanon without a government in the face of the worst economic crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war. Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran, opposed the resignation of its government.

“Today it is the responsibility of the Lebanese … to form a new government as soon as possible,” Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said in a televised address. This government calls upon us from now on to listen and listen to the demands of the people who took to the streets.”

“The seriousness of the work and not consider that it has a long time. Time is tight and people are getting tight … The new government must have its title and real purpose in the first place to restore confidence between the people and the authorities.”

The unprecedented protests that erupted on October 17 pushed Lebanon into political turmoil at a time when it was already struggling amid difficult economic conditions and pressure on its financial system.

Lebanon’s banks resumed operations on Friday for the first time since October 18, and queues of customers facing new restrictions on remittances and withdrawals from dollar accounts extended.

Although no formal restrictions were imposed, clients and banking sources said banks had told clients they could only transfer money abroad if they were to repay loans, for education, health care, or to support families or business commitments.

An hour after the banks opened, Reuters witnesses said dozens of people were waiting in some banks in Beirut and other cities. The numbers were lower in other banks.

The Association of Banks in Lebanon commended the “responsible” actions of the people. Three traders said the Lebanese pound had risen against the dollar in the parallel market that has emerged in recent months.

The Central Bank of Lebanon has pledged not to impose restrictions on the movement of funds when banks resume operations, measures that could hamper much needed currency and investment flows.

Asked about the steps taken by banks, the head of the Association of Banks in Lebanon, Salim Sfeir, said: “I would not describe them as restrictions but efforts by banks to accommodate all customers, taking into account the pressure resulting from the closure for two weeks.”

“We are ready to modify any action taken once the situation in the country returns to normal,” he told Reuters.

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