Banks closed after protests with one dead in northern Lebanon



Banks remain closed Tuesday in Tripoli, northern Lebanon, after at least one person died last night in clashes between the army and protesters in protests over the severe crisis and the depreciation of the Lebanese pound.

The Lebanese Banks Association announced today that it was closing all its branches in the city without giving a date to resume activity.

"Due to the assault and dangerous disturbances that occurred yesterday at our branches in Tripoli, we announced that we closed our entities in Tripoli from April 28 until the security situation improves," the association said in a statement.

Tripoli is the second largest city in the country and one of the hardest hit by the crisis, as well as being the place where the revolution of October 17 that led to the resignation of the government of the historic Saad Hariri began.

The Lebanese National News Agency (ANN) confirmed today that a young man "succumbed to the injuries" suffered in a protest last night in Al Nur square, in the center of Tripoli, where dozens of people gathered despite the curfew from the 21.00 local time imposed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The agency did not release information on the circumstances of the death.

The Lebanese Red Cross said this morning on its Twitter account that three people had been taken to the hospital, while "others" were being treated at the scene.

On the other hand, the Lebanese Army said in a statement today that during the protests "40 members of the Army were wounded" and that nine people who threw stones and pyrotechnic devices at houses of deputies in this city were arrested.

The Army accused "several intruders" of "destroying public and private property," including three branches and one of its military vehicles that was attacked with a Molotov cocktail, according to the note.

THE CRISIS IS WORSE

These protests have been occurring daily for a week since Parliament resumed work after the hiatus from the Covid-19 pandemic and at a time when the Lebanese pound is sinking on the black market where £ 4,100 is already being paid per dollar, while the official price is 1,507.

Despite the fact that Lebanon has its own local currency, the economy is heavily dollarized, so banks have imposed limits on their own withdrawal of currency.

The coronavirus pandemic has aggravated the precarious situation in Lebanon, where there are more than 700 registered and 24 dead, and which is experiencing one of its worst economic crises in decades.

On March 7, Lebanon declared for the first time in its history that it was suspending payments on the foreign debt, as it was unable to meet a maturity in Eurobonds of $ 1.2 billion.

Prime Minister Hasan Diab revealed that Lebanon carries a public debt of more than 90,000 million dollars, which represents 170% of GDP.

In addition, he indicated that more than 40% of the population will soon be below the poverty line.

In a speech to the nation on April 24, Diab directly accused Lebanese Central Bank Governor Riad Salame of the free fall of the local currency, statements criticized by some of his opponents.

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