Protests in Lebanon's capital over worsening economic crisis
Beirut: Hundreds of Lebanese protested Sunday in the country's capital and other areas over an economic crisis that worsened over the past two weeks, with worries over dollar-reliant Lebanon's
local currency losing value for the first time in more than two decades. Lebanon is facing a deep-running fiscal crisis as it staggers under one of the highest debt ratios in the world, at USD 86 billion or more than 150 per cent of the country's gross domestic product.
Many of Sunday's protesters in downtown Beirut blamed Lebanese political leaders for the widespread mismanagement and corruption.
The protesters gathered shortly before noon in the central Martyrs Square, then marched toward the government headquarters were riot police were deployed.
"The people want to bring down the regime," some of the protesters chanted as riot police stopped them from marching toward the government headquarters. The slogan echoed that of the so-called Arab Spring uprisings of 2011.
Other protesters chanted "peaceful" and tried to stop the young men who clashed with security forces. Despite tens of billions of dollars spent since the 15-year civil war ended in 1990, Lebanon still has crumbling infrastructure including daily hours-long electricity cuts, trash piles in the streets and often sporadic, limited water supplies from the state-owned water company.
Last week, the local currency reached 1,650 Lebanese pounds to the dollar at exchange shops after it had been stable at 1,500
Although the official price is still pegged at 1,500 pounds to the dollar, people find it difficult to get hard currency at this rate from local banks.