Lebanon's oldest daily An-Nahar goes blank to protest political deadlock, economic crisis in nation; Twitterati see the lighter side

Protesting a political deadlock and economic woes in Lebanon, the tiny Mediterranean country's oldest newspaper An-Nahar went out to newsstands completely blank on Thursday.

Despite more than five months of wrangling, premier-designate Saad Hariri has been unable to form a new government, putting a precious $11-billion aid package at risk.

An-Nahar, which was founded in 1933, published eight blank pages in print and linkless white boxes on its main page online, posting headlines but no news items.

"People are tired and An-Nahar is tired of writing up your pretexts and repeated empty promises," editor-in-chief Nayla al-Tueni said at a press conference in Beirut.

"God knows how long we will wait to see" a decision on a cabinet line-up, she said.

Lebanons oldest daily An-Nahar goes blank to protest political deadlock, economic crisis in nation; Twitterati see the lighter side

Today’s edition of Lebanese daily, An-Nahar went blank protesting Lebanon’s political stalemate and overalll deteriorating press freedom. Twitter @Tam_Rasamny

A new government would be able to sign off on billions of dollars in aid pledged at a conference in April, notably to help boost the country's ailing infrastructure.

But political parties in the small multi-confessional country have been locked in dispute over the makeup of a future cabinet.

"The situation is no longer bearable," Tueni said, adding, however, that the newspaper was not taking sides in the ongoing wrangling.

The blank issue aimed to express "our deep moral sense of responsibility as a press institution over the disastrous state of the country", she said.

Economic growth in Lebanon has plummeted in the wake of a series of political crises, compounded by the war since 2011 in neighbouring Syria.

An-Nahar has faced financial difficulties in recent years, while other landmark newspapers have shuttered.

Successive governments in Lebanon have been unable to address a waste management crisis, or improve an electricity grid that causes daily power cuts.

In recent days, Lebanese have complained of wastewater arriving in their taps at home, with activists sharing images on social media of vegetables soaking in murky water.

The tiny country, which weathered its own civil war from 1975 to 1990, has a multi-confessional system of government that seeks to represent all religious sects.

Meanwhile, some Twitter users saw a funny side to it as the blank edition featured in some of the memes. From witty attacks on the political lock-down to football fans mocking at the Liverpool manager, netizens used the blank edition to drive home a few points of their own.

With inputs from AFP

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Updated Date: Oct 12, 2018 09:10:10 IST