Lebanon parliament chief urges 'financial state of emergency' amid protests
Iran Press TV
Thursday, 25 June 2020 6:32 AM
Amid growing protests over Lebanon's economic woes, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri has called on the government, central bank and commercial banks to declare a "financial state of emergency" and review measures to protect the country's collapsing currency.
"From now on, it is unacceptable to turn the Lebanese into hostages to the black markets of currency, food, medicine and fuel," Berri said during an emergency meeting of his party, Amal Movement, on Wednesday.
Berri highlighted the importance of reforms in various economic sectors in Lebanon, including the loss-making electricity sector, saying that no donor state or the International Monetary Fund (IMF) would assist Lebanon unless it undertakes reforms.
"Any Lebanese official will be mistaken if he believes the IMF or any state or donor party can give us one penny of aid if we do not implement reforms," Berri said.
Berri said Lebanon has become a "bottomless basket" that no one wants to help.
"Frankly, the world and international community believes Lebanon is a bottomless basket, and before this bottom is closed there will be no aid," he said.
Lebanon's currency reached a new low against the US dollar on Wednesday, losing 75 percent of its value since October.
Lebanon has been facing a tough economic situation because of the policies of successive governments, prompting people to hold numerous protest rallies since October 17 last year.
Protesters back on the street
Protesters took to the streets across the country on Wednesday evening to express their anger over the dire economic situation.
In the capital Beirut, protesters blocked the Ashrafieh-Hamra lane of the vital Ring highway, which has become iconic for the anti-government protest movement.
According to Lebanon's al-Jadeed TV, scuffles erupted between demonstrators and police, resulting in injuries.
Dozens of protesters also rallied in the southern city of Tyre, chanting against banks.
"They are selling their nation for the sake of the dollar," the protesters chanted, addressing private banks.
Other protesters meanwhile rallied outside the central bank in Hamra.
Anti-government demonstrators blocked several roads in the Bekaa, Tripoli, Akkar, Mount Lebanon and Sidon.
The protests came on the eve of a national meeting called for by President Michel Aoun.
The anti-government demonstrators blame the faltering economy on corruption in state institutions as the national debt hovers around $85 billion.
Successive governments have also proved to be even incapable of addressing a waste management crisis or improve the electricity grid, which is plagued by daily power cuts.
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