Lebanese protesters block roads amid furore over economic crisis

Lebanese protesters block roads amid furore over economic crisis

Lebanese protesters have blocked several roads around the capital Beirut and elsewhere amid protests against the ruling elite, who they say have failed to address the economy’s downward spiral.

Demonstrators burned tyres and blocked three main roads leading to the capital from the south, east and north, bringing traffic to a standstill.

School and university students took part in some of the protests and hundreds marched down main highways, raising Lebanese flags and blasting rallying songs through loudspeakers.

Protests took place in Beirut and elsewhere, blocking several major road routes (AP)
Protests took place in Beirut and elsewhere, blocking several major road routes (AP)

In Beirut, dozens rallied outside the Central Bank, chanting against the governor and his financial policies.

Security forces separated the protesters from the bank’s entrance.

In the northern city of Tripoli and in Akkar province, protesters sat in the streets and blocked several roads with burning tyres or bricks.

In the southern city of Sidon, dozens of protesters marched down the streets, rallying outside banks and government offices.

The ruling elite has been blamed for not resolving Lebanon’s worst economic crisis in decades (AP)
The ruling elite has been blamed for not resolving Lebanon’s worst economic crisis in decades (AP)

Lebanon is facing its worst economic crisis in decades, with the local currency plummeting, losing over 60% of its value over the last weeks while sources of foreign currency have dried up.

Meanwhile, banks have imposed informal capital controls limiting withdrawal of dollars and foreign transfers in the country, which relies heavily on imports of basic goods.

Panic has set in among residents who fear their deposits are in danger. Nationwide protests for three months have failed to pressure politicians to form a new government to institute drastic reforms.

The protesters returned to the streets after several weeks of relative calm, following the designation of Hassan Diab as prime minister in mid-December.

Soldiers patrol the streets during the unrest (AP)
Soldiers patrol the streets during the unrest (AP)

But he has so far failed to form an emergency government amid political divisions and jockeying for power.

The previous prime minister Saad Hariri resigned in late October.

Lately, protesters had focused their ire on banks, rallying at the premises or outside banks and demanding access to their deposits.

Dozens have also taunted politicians who showed up in shopping malls or restaurants, sometimes chasing them out of public places and decrying their failure to address the economic crisis.

Nationwide protests began in mid-October in Lebanon, denouncing years of government mismanagement and corruption, calling for the political elite to step down.

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