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Saad Hariri. Photo: Lebanese Presidency/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Lebanon's Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri stepped down Thursday amid months of deadlock and years-long turmoil over the country's economic collapse.

Driving the news: His departure sinks the chances of forming a government to pursue immediate reforms for recovery, per AP, and is likely to bring greater instability to Lebanon.

  • Supporters of Hariri, one of Lebanon’s most prominent Sunni Muslim leaders, and other protesters blocked roads and set fire to tires in parts of Beirut following the news.
  • Troops fired rubber-coated steel bullets and used armored vehicles to force open roads to disperse protests, while demonstrators threw stones at soldiers, Al Jazeera reports.
  • There is no clear candidate to replace Hariri, who cited "key differences" with the president.
Protesters confront Lebanese soldiers during a demonstration in Beirut. Photo: Marwan Naamani/Picture alliance via Getty Images

Catch up quick: Lebanon has not had a working government since Prime Minister Hassan Diab's Cabinet resigned days after a deadly explosion last August. Protesters blamed the disaster, which killed more than 211 people, injured 6,000 and left roughly 250,000 homeless, on the ruling elite's corruption.

What they're saying: "I have excused myself from forming the government," Hariri said after a 20-minute meeting with President Michel Aoun, according to AP. "May God help the country."

  • Under the country's sectarian-based political system, the prime minister comes from the Sunni community.
  • Hariri told Al-Jadeed TV that he doesn't plan to endorse a replacement.
  • Aoun has said he will consult with parliamentary blocs.

Hariri's resignation is "yet another disappointing development for the Lebanese people," U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

  • "The Lebanese economy is in free-fall, and the current government is not providing basic services in a reliable fashion," he added. "It is critical that a government committed and able to implement priority reforms be formed now."

Worth noting: The national currency dropped to a new low on Thursday. The Lebanese pound, which has been pegged to the dollar for 30 years, lost more than 90% of its value, AP reports.

The big picture: Lebanon has undergone one of the world's worst economic collapses in history since 2019.

Go deeper

Aug 8, 2021 - Health

Protests against vaccines, COVID restrictions, span the globe

Police place a face mask on an arrested protester at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne on September 5, 2020 during an anti-lockdown rally. Photo: William West/AFP

Anti-mask and anti-vaccine protests aren't a strictly American phenomenon: Demonstrations have broken out around the world — from Australia to France and Israel to Bulgaria.

Why it matters: As the Delta variant surges, governments are increasingly mandating masks and vaccines for many activities . Vaccines have shown to be incredibly effective in preventing severe illness and death.

Mike Allen, author of AM
2 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Laurene Powell Jobs' $3.5 billion climate campaign

Laurene Powell Jobs, president of Emerson Collective, is investing $3.5 billion in her new climate-action group, the Waverley Street Foundation — all to be spent in 10 years, as a way to show urgency on the issue.

  • Then the group will sunset.

The big picture: The foundation "will focus on initiatives and ideas that will aid underserved communities who are most impacted by climate change," an official tells Axios.

R. Kelly found guilty of racketeering and sex trafficking

Photo: Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

Singer R. Kelly on Monday was found guilty of racketeering and eight counts of violating an anti-sex trafficking law, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: Sexual misconduct allegations have surrounded R. Kelly's career, including a child sexual abuse image case in 2008 where he was acquitted. Multiple other victims have come forward to speak about the abuse in recent years.