Retired Military Personnel Protest Currency Crisis in Lebanon, Met with Tear Gas

Retired Military Personnel Protest Currency Crisis in Lebanon, Met with Tear Gas

Shafaq News/ Lebanese security forces fired tear gas to disperse a group of protesters, primarily retired military personnel, who attempted to break through the fence surrounding the government headquarters in Beirut today.

The protesters were demonstrating against the continuing decline of the country's currency rate.

Clashes intensified between the demonstrators and the riot police, who used tear gas to deter the protesters from removing the barbed wire leading to the Government House in Riad al-Solh Square.

According to the official Lebanese News Agency, the protesters were surprised by the security forces' actions, mainly as many demonstrators belonged to the military and security establishment.

Members of the army advanced towards the barbed wire to act as a barrier between the protesters and security forces and demanded that their colleagues in riot control cease throwing tear gas at the demonstrators.

Ambulances were heard in the vicinity, and both sides reported cases of fainting and injuries.

The protesters demanded entrance into the Saraya while a security force officer negotiated with them to restore calm to the square.

Yesterday, demonstrators closed several main roads in Lebanon after the local currency experienced a brief period of historic lows amid a deepening economic crisis, according to the Associated Press.

On Tuesday, the Lebanese pound lost more than 15% of its value, falling to more than 140,000 pounds against the dollar.

The country is facing its worst economic and financial crisis in modern history.

This crisis, which has resulted in widespread poverty and inflation, is attributed mainly to decades of corruption and mismanagement by the political elite that has governed the country since the end of the 1975-1990 civil war. As a result, over three-quarters of the country's population of more than 6 million people, including a million Syrian refugees, live in poverty.

Although the official exchange rate for the Lebanese pound at the Central Bank of Lebanon is 15 thousand against one dollar, the black market rate is used in almost all commercial transactions.

On Tuesday, the Central Bank of Lebanon announced that it would sell dollars for 90,000 pounds, calling on banks to participate in the sale and end their strike. Following this announcement, the lira regained some of its value, selling at 110,000 pounds per dollar.

Lebanon has yet to elect a new president since the post became vacant at the end of October, leading to a continuing impasse.

The country has also failed to implement broad reforms agreed upon with the International Monetary Bank.

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