Aoun says Lebanese government must include politicians, urges protesters to go home
By Ellen Francis and Laila Bassam BEIRUT (Reuters) - President Michel Aoun said on Tuesday a government made up purely of technocrats would not be able to run Lebanon and so a it must include politicians, adding he had found Saad al-Hariri hesitant about taking the job of prime minister again. In a televised interview, Aoun urged protesters who have taken to the streets across Lebanon for four weeks to go home, warning of a catastrophe if they did not
By Ellen Francis and Laila Bassam
BEIRUT (Reuters) - President Michel Aoun said on Tuesday a government made up purely of technocrats would not be able to run Lebanon and so a it must include politicians, adding he had found Saad al-Hariri hesitant about taking the job of prime minister again.
In a televised interview, Aoun urged protesters who have taken to the streets across Lebanon for four weeks to go home, warning of a catastrophe if they did not.
As his interview ended, protesters blocked several highways across Lebanon, some with burning tyres.
"If you continue in this way, you will strike Lebanon and your interests ... I am placing you in front of this choice," Aoun said. "We are working day and night to get the situation in order. If they keep going, there is a catastrophe. If they stop, there is still room for (us) to fix things," he said.
Hariri quit as prime minister on Oct. 29 in the face of the unprecedented wave of protests against ruling politicians who are widely perceived to have overseen rampant state corruption and steered Lebanon into a major economic crisis.
Lebanon was already facing the worst economic crisis since its 1975-90 civil war when the protests erupted on Oct. 17, plunging it deeper into turmoil. Lebanon's banks and schools were shut again on Tuesday in a new wave of disruption.
The United Nations urged Lebanon to form a competent new government better able to seek international aid after weeks of protests against the ruling elite, warning the country was in a critical financial and economic situation.
Indicating no breakthrough in talks over the next government, Aoun said he was still waiting for answers before calling formal consultations with MPs to designate the next prime minister.
"A technocrat government cannot define the policy of the country...and I back forming a government that is half political and half technocrat," Aoun said. "I met Hariri and I found him hesitant between yes and no."
(Additional reporting by Nadine Awadalla and Tom Perry; Writing by Tom Perry; Editing by Mark Heinrich)
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