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Lebanon banks to shut as anti-government protests continue

October 20, 2019 at 2:28 pm

Lebanese demonstrators gather at Martyrs’ Square and Riad Al Solh Square during an anti-government protest against dire economic conditions and new tax regulations on messaging services like Whatsapp, in Beirut, Lebanon on October 19, 2019 [Mahmut Geldi / Anadolu Agency]

All banks in Lebanon will close on Monday as anti-government protests entered their fourth day against plans for tax increases.

“As the popular movements in the country continue … the association announces that banks will remain closed on Monday,” the Association of Banks in Lebanon said in a statement.

The move comes as thousands of demonstrators continued their anti-government protests on Sunday to pile pressure on the cabinet of Prime Minister Saad Hariri to drop plans to raise taxes.

Lebanon has one of the world’s highest debt burdens at $86.2 billion in the first quarter of this year. This accompanied by high youth unemployment that has brought people on the edge.

Read: 52 security officers injured in Lebanon protests

Hariri has blamed his partners in government for obstructing economic reforms that could resolve the crisis and gave them a 72-hour deadline to stop blocking him, otherwise hinting he may resign.

On Saturday, the Christian Lebanese Forces party said its four ministers in the government would resign with party leader Samir Geagea calling for drawing up a new cabinet.

The resignations came hours after Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said his group was against the government’s resignation.

Read: Lebanon, pushed to the brink, faces reckoning over graft