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In this photo released by Lebanon's official government photographer Dalati Nohra, Lebanese President Michel Aoun meets with political leaders with the aim of finding solutions to the country's economic crisis, in the presidential palace, in Baabda, east of Beirut, Lebanon, Monday, Sept. 2, 2019. Aoun said in a speech at the opening of the one-day session that everyone should make "sacrifices" in order to get one of the world's most indebted countries out of its problems. (Dalati Nohra via AP) BEIRUT Read more here: https://www.miamiherald.com/news/business/article234632702.html#storylink=cpy
In this photo released by Lebanon’s official government photographer Dalati Nohra, Lebanese President Michel Aoun meets with political leaders with the aim of finding solutions to the country’s economic crisis, in the presidential palace, in Baabda, east of Beirut, Lebanon, Monday, Sept. 2, 2019. (Dalati Nohra via AP) BEIRUT

Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun has told tens of thousands of protesters that an economic reform package put forth by the country’s prime minister will be the “first step” toward saving Lebanon from economic collapse.

Aoun spoke in a short televised address to the nation on Thursday, pledging to exert every effort to implement radical reform but also saying that change can only come from within state institutions.

He says freedom of transportation must be respected, urging demonstrators to remove roadblocks.

The comments were his first since protests over corruption and mismanagement erupted around the country a week ago.

Aoun said that the protesters’ “call will not go unanswered,” adding he’s ready for constructive dialogue.

The protesters are taking aim at the country’s leadership, calling for the government and the president to resign.

Disappointing speech

Shortly after his address Gulf News took to the streets and interviewed a cross-section of citizens, who were still flocking to Martyrs Square and Riad Solh Square, who described the speech as extremely disappointing and not up to their expectations.

Teacher Tala Zein said the speech was very disappointing. Meanwhile, postgraduate student Ali Harb said he doesn’t trust the president anymore after his unsatisfactory address.

On her part, Tala Mustafa, a fresh graduate, said Aoun disrespected the protestors because his address came too late.

Her friend Sarah Hamdan, who works at a finance company said: “What the president said wasn’t efficient for the people”.

Reem Yehya, jobless, said the speech made her want to protest more.

 

(AP)/ GULF NEWS

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