A huge rally of support for Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun swarmed the country’s presidential palace on Sunday, a rebuke to broader protests that have demanded the wholesale ouster of the country’s elite and which have toppled the government.
Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri resigned on Tuesday following unprecedented nationwide protests, deepening a political crisis and complicating efforts to enact badly needed economic reforms.
A huge convoy of cars, some waving Aoun’s orange Free Patriotic Movement party flags and his portrait snaked across a main highway on Sunday while a sea of protesters marched to Baabda palace.
Though no immediate estimate of the rally’s size was available, many thousands spread across a roadway leading to the palace. It was the biggest counter protest to the wave of demonstrations that have gripped Lebanon since Oct. 17 and which have included Aoun’s removal among a set of sweeping demands.
“We’re here to say to Aoun that we love you and renew our trust in you,” said Hiyam Khairat at the rally.
In a televised speech, Aoun, who must now hold consultations with members of parliament to designate a new premier, said a three-point plan had been drawn up around tackling corruption, restoring the economy, and building a civil state.