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Lebanese Premier Karami Quits Over Economic Crisis

May 04, 1987|Associated Press

BEIRUT — Prime Minister Rashid Karami abruptly resigned today, citing his Cabinet's failure to resolve a worsening economic crisis generated by 12 years of civil war.

"I hereby announce my resignation. . . . I took this decision in the interest of the nation," Karami, a Sunni Muslim, told reporters.

All Lebanese radio stations interrupted their programs to broadcast Karami's statement.

President Amin Gemayel, a Christian, nominated Karami, a veteran pro-Syrian politician, to his 10th premiership in 29 years in April, 1984.

Karami said he decided to resign after his 10-man Cabinet, composed of Christians and Muslims, "failed to agree on any solution" to the nation's economic crisis.

The Cabinet held its first meeting in seven months on March 23 to discuss the economy as the 250,000-strong General Confederation of Labor called a general strike.

Although the Cabinet adopted several measures to deal with the economic crisis, its decisions were rejected by the confederation and by Christian leaders.

"The latest attempt (to agree on economic solutions) did not live long," Karami said.

Karami, a native of Tripoli, north Lebanon's provincial capital, was prime minister when the civil war broke out in April, 1975.

The nation's economy, once the most prosperous in the Middle East, has been hard hit by the 12 years of violence in which at least 125,000 people have been killed.

The Lebanese pound, once the most stable currency in the Middle East, has lost 98% of its value in the last 12 years.

Inflation has reached 200% a year and unemployment has reached the unprecedented rate of 20%.

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