Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced Tuesday that he and his entire cabinet are stepping down. The decision comes as the country’s economy teeters on the brink of collapse, as protests against corruption and dysfunction within the government have gone on for nearly two weeks. “I can’t hide this from you. I have reached a dead-end,” Hariri said in announcing his resignation. “To all my political peers, our responsibility today is how to protect Lebanon and to uplift the economy. Today, there is a serious opportunity and we should not waste it.” His announcement was met with cheers from protesters gathered in downtown Beirut.
Lebanon has experienced rapid economic deterioration in recent months, including ballooning debt and inflation. Hariri’s government has proposed drastic measures, such as a tax on WhatsApp calls, that further angered the public and sparked the protests. The massive demonstrations have essentially shut down Lebanon: Banks and schools have been closed for 12 days, and major roads have been blocked by protesters.