Lebanese protesters back in streets, major highways blocked

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Lebanese protesters are blocking major highways with burning tires and roadblocks, saying they will remain in the streets following a televised interview in which the president urged them to go home.

Schools and universities closed on Wednesday, and banks remain shuttered – a reflection of the deepening political and financial crisis the tiny country faces.

In a statement on Wednesday, Lebanese President Michel Aoun says the economic situation is deteriorating further as a result of what the country is going through, adding that the start of exploration for oil and gas will help improve the situation gradually.

A man was killed by a Lebanese soldier during Tuesday night protests, marking the first such fatality since nationwide demonstrations engulfed the country on Oct. 17.

The protesters took to the streets after President Michel Aoun said in a televised interview that there could be further delays before a new government is formed.

He also called on those protesting to go home, warning of a catastrophe if the mass protests keep paralyzing the country.

The country has since October 17 been swept by an unprecedented cross-sectarian protest movement against the entire political establishment, which is widely seen as irretrievably corrupt and unable to deal with a deepening economic crisis.

The protests triggered Prime Minister Saad Hariri to tender the resignation of his government on October 29, but he remains in a caretaker capacity and maneuverings are still ongoing to form a new cabinet.

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