Lebanon is like a sinking ship that will go under unless action is taken, Nabih Berri, the speaker of parliament was quoted as saying on Monday November 18th, referring to the country’s deep economic and political crisis.
“The country is like a ship that is sinking little by little,” al-Joumhuria newspaper cited Berri, an ally of the Shi'ite group Hezbollah, telling visitors. He said that efforts to form a new government were "completely frozen" and awaiting developments at any moment. “If we don’t take the necessary steps, it will sink entirely.”
Berri pointed out that he still hoped Hariri would agree to form a new cabinet, al-Joumhuria reported.
An-Nahar newspaper quoted him as likening the situation of the Lebanese people to that of passengers on the Titanic, the cruise ship that sank in 1912 after hitting an iceberg.
This weekend another setback hit the country when former finance minister Mohammad Safadi, a prominent businessman and former lawmaker from the predominantly Sunni city of Tripoli, withdrew his candidacy for the post of prime minister, sparking bitter recriminations. Some protestors had rejected his nomination as being part of a political elite they want ousted.
Lebanon's prime minister must be a Sunni Muslim, according to its sectarian power-sharing system.
On Sunday November 17th, banks, which have mostly been closed since the protests began, announced temporary opening measures including a weekly cap of $1,000 on cash withdrawals and restricting transfers abroad to cover urgent personal spending only.
Lebanon has sunk into major political trouble, struggling with a massive public debt and economic stagnation since protests erupted against its ruling elite a month ago, leading to Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri quitting on October 29th.