Hundreds of Lebanese protesters on Tuesday roamed the streets of the capital Beirut, in spite the coronavirus lockdown, to demonstrate against the deteriorating financial situation in the country.
Convoys of cars with Lebanese flags from different parts of Lebanon met at Beirut’s Martyrs’ Square – the main site where nationwide protests broke out on Oct 17, 2019.
Similar protests took place in the northern port city of Tripoli and the southern port city of Sidon.
The protests took place as Lebanese lawmakers met at the UNESCO Palace in Beirut to discuss the economic and social situation in the country.
Tuesday’s session was not held in the parliament building in downtown Beirut due to the coronavirus outbreak and security reasons.
The convoy of cars tried to reach the area where the parliamentary session was being held, chanting “our protests will be back.”
Protesters were wearing masks with Lebanese flags on them.
“Our politicians are more dangerous than coronavirus,” said one protester from his car in the Jal Deeb neighbourhood north of Beirut.
“We cannot stay in lockdown and let our government play with our lives as they want,” another protester said.
The Lebanese Health Ministry said Tuesday that no new coronavirus infections had been registered in Lebanon, for the first time since the disease was detected on Feb. 21. Lebanon has reported more than 670 cases and 21 deaths.
Since the coronavirus outbreak in the country, the Lebanese pound has plunged against the dollar.
Its value has been declining since October, when demonstrators took to the streets calling for economic reforms and accusing the ruling class of corruption.
“The lockdown has added to our miseries,” said one protester in Martyrs’ Square.
Lebanon is experiencing its worst economic crisis since the civil war of 1975-1990, prompting banks to impose restrictions on Lebanese pound and dollar withdrawals.
In March, Lebanon announced it would suspend payments of all the maturing Eurobonds in foreign currency in order to safeguard its foreign currency reserves.
The International Monetary Fund has projected that Lebanon’s economy will shrink 12 per cent in 2020. (dpa/NAN)