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BEIRUT (AP) —Lebanon’s prime minister has given his political adversaries a 72-hour ultimatum to back his reform agenda amid growing nationwide protests over the country’s worsening economic crisis.

A woman walks by burning tires that were set fire to block a road during a protest against government's plans to impose new taxes in Beirut, Lebanon, Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. The protests erupted over the government's plan to impose new taxes during a severe economic crisis, with people taking their anger out on politicians they accuse of corruption and decades of mismanagement. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
A woman walks by burning tires that were set fire to block a road during a protest against government’s plans to impose new taxes in Beirut, Lebanon, Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. The protests erupted over the government’s plan to impose new taxes during a severe economic crisis, with people taking their anger out on politicians they accuse of corruption and decades of mismanagement. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

In an address to the nation, Saad Hariri blamed political partners in his national unity government, which includes the Iran-backed Hezbollah group, for repeatedly blocking is reform efforts.

He called on them to make “clear, decisive and final” decisions regarding his proposed structural reforms to fix the ailing and heavily indebted economy.

Hariri appeared to suggest he would resign if that did not happen, but he did not elaborate.

Thousands of protesters have been rallying in different parts of the countries including outside the government house for two days, calling for the government’s resignation.

Here is the latest on demonstrations against proposed new taxes amid economic crisis in Lebanon (all times local):

Lebanese security forces fired tear gas at protesters outside government headquarters in central Beirut shortly after Prime Minister Saad Hariri gave a long-awaited speech.

The protesters rejected Hariri’s speech

Thousands chanted Friday evening “Hariri get out” in rejection of his speech.

 

 

Protesters then tried to break their way through toward the government headquarters when they were struck with tear gas making them franticly runaway in different directions.

They were then struck with water cannons.

Thousands of protesters have been rallying in different parts of the countries including outside the government house for two days, calling for the government’s resignation

Demonstrators in Lebanon are blocking major roads across the country in a second day of protests against proposed new taxes, which come amid a severe economic crisis.

Hundreds of people burned tires on highways and intersections Friday, sending up clouds of black smoke in scattered protests.

Two Syrian workers died Thursday when they were trapped in a shop that was set on fire by rioters. Dozens of people were injured.

The street demonstrations began Thursday evening and quickly escalated into some of the biggest protests in years. They were sparked when government announced plans for new taxes on such items as voice calls made through messaging applications, including Whatsapp.

The protests could plunge Lebanon into a political crisis with unpredictable repercussions for the economy, which has been in steady decline.

The Associated Press

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