Aoun pledges to fight graft with new laws

BEIRUT: Lebanese President Michel Aoun said on Thursday he was ready for a dialogue with protesters to help save the country from collapse after days of demonstrations against the ruling elite, and suggested a government reshuffle was possible.
The country’s banking association said banks would remain closed on Friday for a seventh day due to safety concerns, and would open as soon as the situation stabilises, with operations limited to paying out customer and employee salaries via ATMs.
Protests expressing outrage with an establishment seen as corrupt have swept Lebanon since last week, paralysing the country despite reforms intended to appease discontent and win over Western donors that have pledged aid.
In a televised address, Aoun promised to fight state corruption that he said had “eaten us to the bone” and assured protesters that their “shouts will not be wasted”.
“I am ready to meet your representatives who carry your concerns, to listen to your specific demands,” said Aoun.
The protest movement has cut across sectarian lines and been largely leaderless. It was not immediately clear which, if any, representatives would meet with Aoun.
He said there was “a need to review the current government,” hinting a reshuffle could be in the cards, but warned protesters that the system could not be changed by crowding public spaces. — Reuters