Lebanon's cabinet approved sweeping reforms on Monday, hoping to appease the thousands of protesters that have taken to the streets for the last five days to demand the government step down.
Prime Minister Saad Hariri described the measures as a "financial coup," saying no government in Lebanon's history has taken such steps before.
As Hariri's speech was aired live on all local TV stations, thousands of protesters who had gathered in central Beirut chanted: "The people want to bring down the regime."
Hundreds of thousands participated in marches Sunday in Beirut and other cities nationwide. The massive protests have turned into a widening revolt against the country's sectarian status quo and the entire political elite. The outrage over the government's mismanagement of a deepening economic crisis and proposed new taxes has unified Lebanon's often fractious society.
Saad Hariri speaks during a news conference after a cabinet session at the Baabda palace, Lebanon, October 21, 2019.Mohamed Azakir/Reuters
Hariri had given his government — an unwieldy national coalition of nine largely sectarian parties — a deadline that expires Monday evening to come up with convincing solutions to the economic crisis.