Several institutions in Lebanon began a strike on Friday in protest at months of failure to form a new government and economic woes in the country.
The action comes in response to a call from the country’s main labour union, the General Confederation of Lebanese Workers.
The union’s head, Beshara Asmar, called for a peaceful general strike and cautioned against holding street protests for fear of violence.
The response has not been strong yet, according to witnesses. Many institutions across the country have not heeded the call for the strike, while some others only observed a one-hour stoppage, the witnesses added.
State agencies have warned their employees against participating in the strike, according to media reports. Last week, Lebanon witnessed several street demonstrations aimed at pressuring the country’s rival political groups to form a government and tackle the country’s worsening economic problems.
Lebanon has been without a new government for about eight months due to wrangling among political factions. In November, Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri, a Sunni Muslim backed by Saudi Arabia, blamed the Iranian-backed Shiite Hezbollah group for delaying the creation of the government.
The accusation came after Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah insisted that several Sunni lawmakers loyal to the Shiite movement be added to the cabinet, thus boosting Hezbollah’s influence in the group.
Under the Lebanese constitution, the president should be a Christian, the premier a Sunni Muslim, and the house speaker a Shiite Muslim.
Disagreements among Lebanon’s different political groups frequently mean it can take months to build a government after elections. Lebanon held legislative polls in May.