Demonstrators in Lebanon Call for Removal of Gov’t Amid Economic Crisis
Protesters in Lebanon on Saturday took to the streets of Beirut and other cities to call for the government’s resignation amid an intensifying economic crisis in the country. The unrest follows violent demonstrations last week that erupted in the wake of a significant drop in the local currency, which over the past months has lost over 60% of its value against the US dollar. The unrest poses a major challenge to Prime Minister Hassan Diab, who assumed the post earlier this year after his predecessor stepped down in the midst of nationwide anti-government rallies. The financial crisis has been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, which, like in many other nations, led to the implementation of restrictions that severely curtailed business activity. In response, Diab’s cabinet has approved measures to prop up the Lebanese pound and urged the public to be patient. He also insinuated that his ability to adequately address the situation was being stymied by unnamed political opponents. The Lebanese public has long perceived the nation’s sectarian-based political system as corrupt and ineffective, with protesters last year having been unsuccessful in their push for the creation of a government comprised mainly of technocrats. Lebanon has one of the highest debt-to-GDP ratios in the world, and weeks of negotiations over a massive loan from the International Monetary Fund have thus far borne no fruit.