Lebanese Presidency Refutes Rumors about Aoun’s Health
The Lebanese presidency denied on Tuesday rumors about President Michel Aoun’s health.
In a statement, it warned against “spreading such lies that are promoted by parties that are deliberately seeking to create confusion during these critical times that the country is going through.”
Aoun, 84, was elected president in 2016.
Lebanon has been plunged in anti-government protests since Thursday. They erupted last week after the cabinet approved new taxes. People from across the country have poured into the streets to demand the resignation of the government and the entire perceived corrupt political class.
In a bid to ward off crisis and defuse the country’s biggest protests in decades, the cabinet on Monday approved an emergency package of economic reforms.
The moves did not go far enough to persuade demonstrators to leave the streets.
Prime Minister Saad Hariri, in a televised speech, said the new measures might not meet the protesters’ demands but were a start towards achieving some of them. The government must work to recover trust, he said.
“You are the compass and ... your movement frankly is what led us to this decision today,” added Hariri, who said big steps had been taken towards fighting corruption and waste.
The government approved a 2020 budget with no new taxes and a deficit of around 0.6% of national output, Hariri said, describing this as a historic achievement. The deficit for 2019 is around 7% of GDP.