BEIRUT: President Michel Aoun said Thursday that he was ready to meet with representatives of the protesters for “constructive dialogue,” in his first public address since mass protests started last week.
“I am ready to meet representatives of you who carry your anxieties and carry your demands, and you listen to our fears of economic collapse and what we should do together to achieve your goals without causing collapse,” Aoun said, addressing protesters.
Nationwide protests entered their second week Thursday, with hundreds of thousands of Lebanese taking to the streets to protest proposals of tax hikes and state corruption, and calling for the overthrow of the entire political regime – Aoun included.
As a decentralized, mass uprising, there are no clear candidates to represent the movement in any meeting with Aoun.
In his address to the Lebanese people, Aoun said a change of the regime “does not take place in the streets ... it only happens through constitutional institutions.”
Aoun said an economic blueprint by Prime Minister Saad Hariri, which was approved by Cabinet Monday, was “the first step to save Lebanon and push away financial and economic collapse.”
The blueprint has failed to quell protests.