Lebanese demonstrators wave national flags on a highway linking Beirut to north Lebanon, in Zouk Mosbeh on October 19, 2019, a day after demonstrations swept through the eastern Mediterranean country in protest against dire economic conditions. Image Credit: AFP

Beirut: On the eighth day of protests, Lebanese President Michel Aoun addressed the nation promising the economic reform package outlined by  Prime Minister Saad Hariri earlier this week to be the start towards saving Lebanon from economic collapse.

In a televised address, Aoun pledged to exert every effort to implement radical reform but also said that change can only come from within state institutions.

Urging demonstrators to unblock roads, he said freedom of transportation must be respected just like freedom of expression.

Shortly after his address Gulf News took to the streets and interviewed a cross-section of citizens, who were still flocking to Martyrs Square and Riad Solh Square, who described the speech as extremely disappointing and not up to their expectations.

Teacher Tala Zein said the speech was very disappointing. Meanwhile, postgraduate student Ali Harb said he doesn’t trust the president anymore after his unsatisfactory address.

On her part, Tala Mustafa, a fresh graduate, said Aoun disrespected the protestors because his address came too late.

Her friend Sarah Hamdan, who works at a finance company said: “What the president said wasn’t efficient for the people”.

Reem Yehya, jobless, said the speech made her want to protest more.

Computer engineer Majd Kabbani said the president’s speech was nothing new adding that Aoun should be toppled along with the government.

-Bassam Za'Za is a freelance journalist based in Beirut