Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Al Hariri. File photo
Saad Hariri's sombre televised address was met by cheers from crowds of protesters who have remained mobilised since October 17, crippling the country to press their demands.
"It has become necessary for us to make a great shock to fix the crisis. I am going to the Baabda Palace to submit the government's resignation," said Hariri, who had already stepped down twice from the same post.
He said his decision comes "in response to the will of many Lebanese who took to the streets to demand change."
The move, the demonstrators' most significant win yet, will trigger the complicated task of parliament forming a new government -- if the president accepts it.
Hariri's announcement came after days of apparently unfruitful efforts to reshuffle posts within his uneasy coalition, as tension mounted on the ground between protesters and security forces bent on re-opening the country for business.
It also followed clashes between protestors and counter-demonstrators, which sparked fears of deeper civil strife.
In his speech on Tuesday, Hariri said he had reached a dead end, urging the political class to protect the country.
Embattled PM's addressed the nation on TV as a mob loyal to Hizbollah and Amal attacked and destroyed a protest camp set up by anti-government demonstrators in Beirut.
"For 13 days the Lebanese people have waited for a decision for a political solution that stops the deterioration (of the economy). And I have tried, during this period, to find a way out, through which to listen to the voice of the people," Hariri said in his speech.
"It is time for us to have a big shock to face the crisis. I am going to the Baabda (presidential) palace to present the resignation of the government. To all partners in political life, our responsibility today is how we protect Lebanon and revive its economy."
In central Beirut, black-clad men wielding sticks and pipes wrecked the protest camp that has been the focal point of countrywide rallies against the long entrenched elite.
The turmoil has worsened Lebanon's acute economic crisis, with financial strains leading to a scarcity of hard currency and a weakening of the pegged Lebanese pound. Lebanese government bonds tumbled on the turmoil.
The show of force in Beirut came after Hizbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said last week roads closed by protesters should be reopened and suggested the demonstrators were financed by its foreign enemies and implementing their agenda.
Just before the security forces moved in on Saturday, two women and two men were manning the roadblock on the ring road. They said they have been at the roadblock for 10 days and have no plan to dismantle it but added that they would not fight the army. They let through an ambulance and a motorcycle.
After protesters marched in Beirut, Tripoli and other cities, Samir Geagea, head of the Lebanese forces party, said his group was resigning from the government.
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.
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Confirmed coronavirus infections around the world approached one million on Thursday as the pandemic spread at a "near-exponential" rate, with a six-week-old baby becoming one of the youngest known victims.
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