Lebanon News

Protesters target Diab's house and banks on day 73 of protests

FILE PHOTO: A protester at a demonstration outside of Lebanon Central Bank during ongoing anti-government protests in Beirut, Lebanon November 11, 2019. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares/File Photo

BEIRUT: Around a hundred protesters gathered outside Prime Minister-designate Hassan Diab’s residence in Talet al-Khayat on Saturday, the 73rd day of nationwide protests, calling for him to step down.

Many of the demonstrators had made the journey from Tripoli by bus to demand Diab’s resignation. Security forces blocked some roads leading to Diab’s home with metal barricades.

“Diab doesn’t represent all the people,” said a man who had come from Tripoli in a televised interview.

Earlier in the day, dozens of people held demonstrations at banks in locations across the country, including in Beirut's Hamra district and the southern city of Nabatieh.

Protesting capital controls and what they believe to be corrupt banking policies, demonstrators rallied Saturday under the slogan “No one knows” – a reference to comments made by Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh.

When questioned earlier this week by a reporter about the future of the Lebanese pound, Salameh replied: “No one knows.”

Lebanon’s economy has been deteriorating for months, with a dollar shortage, strict capital controls set by individual banks, a weak national currency and price hikes plaguing the country.

During recent months, unofficial exchange rates for the Lebanese pound have been far higher than the authorized trading band of LL1,501-1,514 to the dollar, routinely hitting figures above LL2,000.

“The capital controls are unacceptable,” said one man in a televised interview. “People can’t pay for their lives ... how are people supposed to solve this crisis?”

He said that the protesters would be going from bank to bank to hold demonstrations.

Similar protests were organized in Nabatieh, with dozens of people entering and standing in front of bank branches, united by the slogan, “We are not paying.”

Thousands of people have taken to Lebanon's streets since Oct. 17, calling for the overhaul of a decades-old sectarian political system and the fall of country's the ruling elite.

 

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