Lebanese protesters block roads over economic misery

Published November 30, 2021
PEOPLE drive bikes past burning tyres placed by protesters to block a road in Beirut.—AFP
PEOPLE drive bikes past burning tyres placed by protesters to block a road in Beirut.—AFP

BEIRUT: Demons­trators, some of them burning tyres, blocked roads across parts of Lebanon on Monday in protest at the country’s economic meltdown, days after the Lebanese pound sank to new lows.

Lebanon’s economic crisis, which erupted in 2019, has propelled more than three quarters of the population into poverty and the local currency has plummeted by over 90pc.

The Lebanese pound sank to more than 25,000 against the dollar last week, from a peg in 2019 of 1,500.

Roads were blocked by burning tyres in central Beirut, Tripoli in northern Lebanon and the southern city of Sidon.

There has been little progress since Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s government was appointed in September after more than a year of political deadlock that compounded the crisis.

Mikati’s government has been in paralysis since a row over the lead investigator into a fatal explosion at Beirut port last year flared during a cabinet meeting on Oct 12. The cabinet has not met since then.

Subsidies have been cut back on almost all goods including fuel and medicine, pushing up prices as basic services such as healthcare crumble.

The cabinet’s main focus was on a revival of talks with the International Monetary Fund, needed to unlock foreign aid. But an agreement on vital financial figures, a requirement to start negotiations, has not been reached.

Published in Dawn, November 30th, 2021

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