Protesters walk near the barricades on fire during a protest over economic difficulties and the lack of a new government in Beirut, Lebanon, January 14, 2020. REUTERS / Mohamed Azakir
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Lebanese security forces fired tear gas to disperse protesters outside the country’s central bank on Tuesday night, clashing with dozens of people who threw them with stones and fireworks.
Protesters threw tear gas against riot police and some young men, with their faces covered, destroyed bank stores and ATMs, a Reuters witness said.
Protests began last October against a ruling elite accused of leading Lebanon towards its worst economic crisis in decades.
Since Saad al-Hariri resigned as prime minister at the end of October, politicians have not agreed to a new government or rescue plan. The Lebanese pound has weakened in the parallel market, a strong monetary restriction has raised prices and confidence in the banking system has been mistreated.
“Everything we are suffering is due to the banks and central bank policies,” said Ali, a 21-year-old university student, at Tuesday’s protest in the Hamra district of Beirut. “That’s why there is no money and prices are going up.”
He said that the strict controls that banks have imposed, including the limitation of dollar withdrawals and the blockage of most transfers abroad, have also fueled outrage.
“They will not give people their own money,” he said.
The governor of the Central Bank, Riad Salameh, said the deposits are safe.
Reports by Ellen Francis and Issam Abdallah, Timothy Heritage Edition