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Pro-Hezbollah Lebanese newspaper hit with resignations for its 'pro-government' line Open in fullscreen

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Pro-Hezbollah Lebanese newspaper hit with resignations for its 'pro-government' line

Al-Akhbar is perceived as pro-"March 8" [AFP]

Date of publication: 4 November, 2019

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Lebanese Al-Akhbar saw at least three of its senior journalists tendered their resignations over the newspaper's editorial line on the anti-government protests.

A prominent "pro-Hezbollah" newspaper has been hit by an exodus of employees over its stance on the anti-government protests that gripped the country since 17 October.

The daily Al-Akhbar saw at least three of its senior journalists tender their resignations over the newspaper's editorial line, which oppposes the protests calling for a complete overhaul of the political system.

Internal disputes began over disagreements on the newspaper's editorial line in the coverage of the cross-sectarian protests, local media reported. 

Senior economics editor Mohammed Zbib announced on Monday that he had resigned "in protest of the newspaper's position on the uprising".

In a Facebook post, Zbib added that the daily's Monday issue did not include any work by journalist Ghassan Dibeh and "other colleagues who were founders of this project", alluding to further resignations.

His announcement follows that of journalist Joy Slim, who said on 29 October she has left her post at the newspaper, where she had been for five and a half years.

"The last few days were decisive for me," Slim said in a Facebook post. "I was disappointed by the newspaper's coverage of the uprising, which we have worked for months (and perhaps years) building up towards. But, as soon as it happened the newspaper quickly joined the anti-revolution camp, fuelling the streets with conspiracy plots and rumours."

Read more: Lebanon Rises: Special coverage of Lebanon's historic anti-corruption uprising

While the newspaper declares itself as progressive and independent, supporting movements for freedom and social justice, it is perceived as pro-"March 8" - a coalition of political parties in Lebanon, which include Hezbollah and the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), both of which are opposed to the current uprising. 

Hezbollah held three ministerial posts and a majority with its Christian allies the Free Patriotic Movement before Lebanon's cabinet fell this week after 13 days of mass anti-graft protests.

It has also been a key ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the neighbouring country's eight-year conflict.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced his cabinet would step down.

But it is still unclear what a new government will look like and if it will include independent technocrats as demanded by demonstrators.

More than 25 percent of the Lebanese live in poverty, the World Bank says.

Economic growth in Lebanon has stalled in recent years in the wake of repeated political crises, compounded by an eight-year civil war in neighbouring Syria.


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