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  • Protester carries a Lebanese flag in Jal El Dib, Beirut, Lebanon, June 11, 2020.

    Protester carries a Lebanese flag in Jal El Dib, Beirut, Lebanon, June 11, 2020. | Photo: EFE

Published 13 June 2020
Opinion

A protracted economic crisis pushed people onto the streets for the second day in a row.

Citizens took to the streets for the second night in a row to protest against Lebanon's Prime Minister Hassan Diab who has failed to control the strong depreciation of the Lebanese pound (L£) against the U.S. dollar.

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In Beirut, the country's capital, protesters burned tires, cut roads, and confronted security forces. At least eleven people were injured, according to the Red Cross.

"In our country, there is clientelism, poverty, a high illiteracy rate, and unemployment," citizen Mohammad Draihi said, adding that "it is easier to get weapons or drugs than to get money, food, or a diploma."

On Thursday, the price of the national currency exceeded L£5,000 for US$1 on the black market. The following day, the Diab administration announced measures to halt the currency depreciation, among which is the creation of a task force to monitor financial affairs.

Also, the Lebanese government said that the Central Bank will inject dollars into the currency market on Monday to lower the parity below 4,000 pounds per U.S. dollar.

"Unemployment has soared to 35 percent nationwide," AFP recalled, adding that the quarantine has further worsened the situation for companies and their workers.

Last year, the Lebanese people began a cycle of daily protests that ended in the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who remained in power from January 31 to October 29.

Later, banks put restrictions on citizens to withdraw U.S. dollars in a country where the official exchange rate had remained at US$1 for 1,515 pounds since 1997.

On January 21, after months without Lebanese politicians being able to agree to form a cabinet, the engineer Hassan Diab was elected as prime minister and vowed he would work to solve the country's economic and political problems.

Nevertheless, on March 7, for the first time in its history, Lebanon suspended payment of its foreign debt after admitting that it could not meet a US$1.2 billion euro-bond maturity.

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