Lebanon sees its most intense protests in months after the Lebanese pound made a drastic depreciation.
Rabat – Demonstrations are sweeping across Lebanon as protesters express concern over the local currency’s alarming 25% depreciation in just two days.
The anti-government protests that erupted throughout the country on Thursday have been the most intense that the country has seen in months, as many struggle to make ends meet amid rampant job loss and business closures.
Thousands of people took to the streets, resulting in roadblocks and property damage. Aggravated protesters set banks ablaze and clashed with security forces.
Many are calling on the government to resign and are accusing the Central Bank governor, Riad Salameh, for the sharp downfall. Salameh is responsible for maintaining the stability of the currency.
For decades, the Lebanese pound has been steadily measured against the dollar at 1,500. Although the value of the pound has been falling for months, it reached an all-time low of more than 5,000 to the dollar. Losing 70% of its currency’s value, the COVID-19pandemic has only exacerbated Lebanon’s already dire economic situation.
As tensions continue to mount, Prime Minister Hassan Diab addressed the crisis by calling for a cabinet meeting on Friday. The currency crisis has been one of Diab’s major challenges since coming into office after the former Prime Minister, Saad Hariri, yielded to the country’s demands for his resignation.
This afternoon, the government announced it would take steps to lower the exchange rate of the pound in an effort to mitigate the situation.
Lebanon has struggled to maintain calm since last fall amid political and economic distress. Since October 2019, protesters have demanded an end to political corruption and have called on solutions to address the country’s economic turmoil.
“We came down to the streets because all that we demanded on 17 October [2019 when Prime Minister Saad Hariri stepped down after weeks of demonstrations] did not get achieved,” a Beirut protester told Reuters. “They got us a prime minister who is worse than the one before.”