While demonstrations continue across Lebanon, protesters are now asking for the assigned Prime Minister to step down and have moved to hit the government where it hurts the most.
Ten days through his appointment now, and Hassan Diab doesn’t seem to be able to tackle the challenge of conflicts between the politicians in order to form a cabinet; politicians he has to refer to and comply with, which infuriates further the people of the revolution who have initially rejected him.
On Saturday, they went to protest outside of Diab’s home in Beirut, calling for his resignation while anti-government and anti-bank demonstrations continue across the country, including in Tripoli.
They denounced Diab’s participation as a minister in a government deemed corrupt. According to La Guardian, a young protester outside Diab’s home said, “We’re here to bring down Hassan Diab. He doesn’t represent us. He’s one of them.”
It took the officials and political parties weeks of negotiation after Hariri’s resignation on October 29 to finally nominate Diab on December 19. The nomination triggered a wave of discontent, and not only from the people of the revolution.
Former PM Hariri and his Moustaqbal movement have switched into opposing the government, as the nomination of Diab has revealed even deeper intense conflicts between the ruling officials.
Meanwhile, the country remains hostage to their quarrels and to the severe economic crisis they not only created but don’t seem to budge to resolve it while the nation is heading to a total disaster.
The people have now moved into pressuring the government more than ever, moving into the strong position of holding on to the payments of their loans, taxes, and bills.
Just two weeks ago, the campaign was launched and went viral, calling the Lebanese citizens not to pay their taxes.
“We won’t pay our taxes until they give us back the money they took,” a Twitter user tweeted. Since then, the strike has developed into wider civic disobedience with the campaigners calling on their fellow Lebanese to withhold from settling any payment to the government.
That includes their electricity bills, their water bills, their municipal taxes, any and all fines, and even their loans to the banks.
Basically, as the campaigners on twitter state, “Until there is a government that we trust to be capable of managing the state’s money properly, there is nobody to pay these taxes to.”
They further explained that they can keep using the little electricity there is anyway since the already-defaulting service doesn’t cut off before 2-3 unpaid bills, after which the electricity company takes quite a time to process the debt to a collection agency.
Adding that, whatever high the debt, the penalty is just about 6000 LBP per bill.
There is a reason why the Electricite du Liban is a target of protests.
In addition to its massive failure to serve the people for over a decade, and the people being charged double-bills, Electricite du Liban accounts for about $2 billion of the country’s debt, while it receives yearly about a billion and a half dollars from the government, mainly to cover its needs of fuel.
Basically, the people want to give back the government and its faulting institutions a taste of their doing. It is a simple and even natural dynamic in relationships when you think about it:
“You don’t give us our money, we don’t give you yours.” It goes as well for: “You don’t give us what we paid for, we cease to pay.” How is it so different here where the masses are simply abiding by the dynamics of fairness?
It is similarly true in corporations and businesses when those in charge steal or bankrupt the company; they get fired from their position, with penalties, to say the least.