Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has signaled his readiness to support the current Lebanese government amid the ongoing protests in the capital Beirut.
In a televised speech on Saturday, Nasrallah said that he would back the government,“but with a new agenda and a new spirit”.
According to him, the past couple of days of protests indicated that if new taxes are introduced to resolve the political standoff, this may result in a “popular uprising”.
Nasrallah said that if the government steps down, it could take a year or two to form a new Cabinet, “and the time is short”; he added that Hezbollah doesn’t support the resignation of the government.
The protests in Lebanon started on Thursday after the government announced that it plans to charge 20 cents a day for calls via FaceTime and WhatsApp.
Lebanese security forces in Beirut used tear gas and rubber batons to disperse crowds of protesters, who blocked off the Beirut-Damascus international highway, also burning tires and calling for a “government resignation and revolution”.
Lebanese Telecommunications Minister Mohammad Choucair, for his part, pledged that a decision to impose taxes on online calls via WhatsApp and similar mobile applications would be reversed in the wake of mass protests against the measure.
Earlier, the government approved imposing the $6 monthly tax in a bid to raise additional funds for its debt-ridden budget. Additionally, the authorities introduced a new tax on tobacco and announced plans to increase the value-added tax (VAT) to 15 percent by 2020.
Lebanon has recently been rocked by anti-government protests amid a severe deterioration of the economic situation in the country. Last Sunday, during a rally in central Beirut, demonstrators called for the resignation of the government, holding economic reforms and taking action to cope with corruption.