BEIRUT: Lebanese protesters blocked key roads with burning barricades Monday in rage at the country’s political paralysis and deep economic crisis, after its currency hit record lows on the black market. The country is in the grips of its worst economic crisis in decades, compounded by the coronavirus pandemic.
Prices have soared and more than half of the population is living below the poverty line, but the divided political class has for more than six months been unable to form a cabinet.
Black smoke billowed up from overturned rubbish dumpsters and tyres set ablaze by protesters at various entrances to Beirut from early morning as part of a mobilisation they dubbed a “day of rage”.
“We’ve closed off all the roads today to tell everyone: It’s over, we have nothing left to lose,” said Pascale Nohra, a protester blocking the northern road into Beirut. “We’ve even lost our dignity.” She said it was time to revive the mass cross-sectarian protests of late 2019 against an entrenched political class, that has dominated the country since the 1975-1990 civil war. “We want everybody to show solidarity,” said the former real estate worker. “We need to return to the streets and revive our revolution.”
Similar protests were held Monday in the northern port city of Tripoli. Lebanon’s currency has lost more than 80 percent of its value since the autumn of 2019, plunging to an all-time low of nearly 11,000 pounds to the greenback. In a country that imports most of its food, state subsidies have until now helped to partially stem the inflation.