Protesters have blocked roads with burning tyres all over Lebanon for the seventh consecutive day, demanding an end to the economic crisis that has prevailed for more than a year and a half of political paralysis.
Three main roads leading south into the capital Beirut from Zouk, Jal al-Dib and al-Dawra were blocked on Monday while, in Beirut itself, protesters briefly blocked the road in front of the central bank.
“We have said several times that there will be an escalation because the state isn’t doing anything,” said Pascale Nohra, a protester in Jal al-Dib.
In Tyre, a man tried to burn himself by pouring petrol on his body but civil defence stopped him in time, the state news agency said.
Lebanon’s financial crisis, which erupted in 2019, has driven nearly half of the population of six million into poverty, wiped out jobs and savings and slashed consumer purchasing power.
Protesters have been blocking roads daily since the collapse of the Lebanese pound, which fell to 10,000 to the dollar on Tuesday, slashed about 85 percent of its value in a country relying heavily on imports.
It was the last straw for many who have seen prices of consumer goods nearly triple since the crisis erupted.
The country has been rudderless since August last year when caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab’s cabinet resigned on the back of the Beirut port explosion that devastated swaths of the capital.
Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri was nominated in October but has failed to form a new cabinet due to the political deadlock with President Michel Aoun.
A new cabinet is necessary to implement reforms needed to trigger billions of dollars of international aid to fix the economy.
The last straw
On Saturday, Diab threatened to quit to raise the pressure on those blocking the formation of a new government.
State news agency reported that Diab is scheduled to meet Aoun, several caretaker ministers, the central bank chief and financial and security officials on Monday.