Lebanon: Beirut, tension during sit-in close to Parliament

Protests against law on capital control

20 April, 14:36

    BEIRUT - Episodes of tension between demonstrators and law enforcement officers were reported on Wednesday morning in Beirut, Lebanon, during a protest organized in the center of the capital against the "corruption" of politicians.
    For the second time in a few days, the collective of citizens 'A cry in favor of bank account holders' organized a sit-in in the central Maarad street, near the entrance of parliament, to prevent lawmakers from getting in. On Wednesday, a debate is scheduled in parliament's finance and justice commissions on the controversial bill on the control of capitals. Lebanon is afflicted by its worst financial crisis in decades and the government declared bankruptcy in the spring of two years ago.
    When cars carrying lawmakers passed by, demonstrators tried to block them and surrounded them, screaming: 'Thieves! Thieves!".
    Some demonstrators kicked the cars while soldiers intervened to push back protesters from the entrance of parliament.
    The parliamentary commissions are examining bills on the control of capitals, which aim to legalize a measure taken de facto by Lebanese banks in November 2019 with the advent of the financial crisis. The banks for over two years have frozen the bank deposits of account holders, allowing them only to withdraw small amounts of cash in Lebanese liras. The UN estimates that more than 80% of the resident population lives today below the poverty threshold. The local lira lost over 90% of its value compared to the US dollar, a currency mainly used in Lebanon since the end of the civil war, along with the local lira. The approval of the law for the control of capitals is one of the conditions posed by the International Monetary Fund to grant the expected funding to help the economy recover. The funds however will be managed by the political ruling class which is expecting to gain new institutional legitimacy through elections scheduled on May 15.

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