Violent demonstrations, protester death grip northern Lebanon

Marco Green
April 30, 2020

The largest and most violent protests took place in the northern city of Tripoli - Lebanon's second-largest, and poorest, city, after protester Fouaz al-Semaan died Tuesday from wounds sustained while protesting the night before.

Lebanon is facing its worst economic crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war, now compounded by a nationwide lockdown to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Banks have been a frequent target of attacks since Lebanon's economic crisis began in October, with people angry that they are unable to access their savings as the currency has collapsed in value against the USA dollar and prices have soared. The currency has slumped from the official peg of 1,507.5 Lebanese pounds per U.S. dollar since October.

The statement explained that: "The ongoing financial, economic and banking crisis in Lebanon requires decisive and immediate measures..."

This has unleashed a public outcry against a government that has yet to deliver a long awaited rescue plan to shore up the country's finances more than three months since it was nominated to address the crisis.

"This is the time to provide material support to increasingly desperate, impoverished and hungry majority of Lebanese" he said in a post on Twitter. The pound has since lost more than half its value, fuelling inflation in a country heavily dependent on imports.

With no clear government plan to exit the crisis, Lebanon is heading "towards an inevitable social explosion" Sami Nader, director of the Levant Institute for Strategic Affairs, told AFP.

Several banks were attacked as the protesters vented their ire at the country's economic apocalypse.

This came in a statement issued by the Arab League, of which Anadolu Agency obtained a copy, following the death of a protester and the injuries of others during clashes between protesters and the army, in the city of Tripoli, northern Lebanon.

The Arab League warned on Wednesday that Lebanon is sliding towards the unknown, following bloody confrontations between the army and protesters.

U.S. dollars sold for 4,200 Lebanese pounds on Tuesday according to one importer, despite a central bank directive capping the price at 3,200.

The National News Agency said the facade of a bank was smashed.

Protesters also attempted to stone the central bank headquarters in the capital, Beirut, late on Tuesday night, before being dispersed by troops.

The 26-year-old man's sister said the Lebanese army shot him.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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