World Bank considers the Lebanese crisis one of the worst of our century

Prime Minister Hariri announced the withdrawal of his candidacy for the next elections in May 2022, after the meeting that ended the blockade imposed by the Shiite Hezbollah and Shiite militia-party AMAL
Saad Hariri, de 51 años, anunció que no se presentaría a las próximas elecciones parlamentarias y que se retiraba de la vida política AFP/ANWAR AMRO

AFP/ANWAR AMRO  -   Saad Hariri, 51, announced that he would not stand in the upcoming parliamentary elections and that he was retiring from political life.

Lebanon is suffering from various internal crises that are weakening the economic resources of both the country and the population. The country has a shortage of basic supplies and energy, with many places using candles as the only means of illumination. The World Bank, which has provided economic assistance since the situation began, has already pointed out in published reports that this crisis is caused by "elite leaders" and that both the middle classes and the poorest are suffering the consequences of mismanagement. The country's inflation continues to rise, and is close to 200%, and the nation's currency has been devalued by 90%.

The bank points out that the Lebanese economy is even among the three most severe financial crises in the world. According to them, the same data has not been collected since 1850. The country's rate is the third highest in the world, after Venezuela and Sudan. It also says that real GDP was forecast to decline by 10.5 % by 2021, but has ended up contracting by 58.1 %, the sharpest contraction in a list of 193 countries. 

El primer exministro del Líbano, Saad al-Hariri REUTERS/MOHAMED AZAKIR
REUTERS/MOHAMED AZAKIR - Lebanon's former prime minister, Saad al-Hariri, 

The data comes a day after the resignation of Lebanon's former prime minister Saad Hariri, who broke the news that he is leaving political life for good. The man who was in office from 2016 to 2020 also announces that he does not intend to run in the next elections, which will be held in May 2022. "I am suspending my participation in political life and I invite my political family within the Movement for the Future political party current to follow my path. I will not run in the elections and I will not run for the Future Movement or on its behalf," said Hariri.

Their withdrawal follows the end of the bloc of Shiite Hezbollah and Shiite AMAL militia parties, which had been paralysed for more than 70 days. This event has proved to be a setback for the country, which has been on the verge of collapse. Michel Aoun, the country's president, said that "what has happened over the past few months is not in line with the separation of powers, which is a constitutional law".

Los partidarios del ex primer ministro Saad Hariri queman neumáticos para bloquear una carretera principal en Beirut, Líbano, el lunes 24 de enero de 2022 AP/BILAL HUSSEIN
AP/BILAL HUSSEIN - Supporters of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri burn tyres to block a main road in Beirut, Lebanon, Monday, Jan. 24, 2022

Hariri presented the news during a press conference where the country's media were present. "There is no room for any positive opportunity in Lebanon in the light of Iranian influence, international turmoil, national division, sectarianism and the collapse of the state," according to NNA, the country's state news agency.

During the event, he explained several of the reasons for his resignation and to make the Lebanese people understand his situation. The former prime minister explained that after the assassination of his predecessor and father in 2005, Rafiq Hariri, he had to deal with the problems that were accumulating in the nation and tried to avoid any civil war in Lebanon. In his words, there was a need to "ensure a better life for the Lebanese".

Billetes de libras libanesas en una tienda de cambio de moneda en Beirut, Líbano PHOTO/REUTERS
PHOTO/REUTERS - Lebanese pound notes at a currency exchange shop in Beirut, Lebanon.

To avoid any consequences that would lead his country to ruin. Hariri adds that he had to make compromises at his own expense, most notably the Doha agreement, the visit to Damascus and the election of Michel Aoun as the nation's governor. "These compromises were made at my expense," Hariri adds.

During his term in office, Lebanon suffered several protests that have led to a disastrous situation in the country. This is the case of the revolutions of October 2019, where tens of thousands of citizens protested in the most important cities of the nation against the bad economic situation and the problems they were going through. According to the former prime minister, "some Lebanese have come to consider me as one of the main pillars of the authority that has caused the country's disaster. However, I was the only one to reciprocate the 17 October revolution, as I resigned my government and insisted on forming another one," says Hariri. He also adds that to quell the demonstrations, reform packages were proposed to try to ease the situation and calm people's spirits.