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Lebanon's Hezbollah blames central bank for currency collapse

Deputy leader of Lebanon's Hezbollah yesterday criticised the Central Bank over the drop in the currency to record levels against the US dollar, adding that the bank's governor was partly responsible.

Speaking to Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, Naim Qassem blamed the decline on the "negative performance" by the bank, stressing that the Governor, Riad Salameh, was responsible "but not on his own".

"Hezbollah's position on the issue of the governor is clear," Qassem said, explaining that it was "necessary to discuss the issue within the government and not in the media."

READ: Money transfers close as currency goes into freefall in Lebanon

He stressed that "appropriate action" must be taken to put the "country's interest ahead of all else."

The Lebanese pound slumped in October as the country's long-standing economic issues came to a head, prompting a financial and banking crisis, which experts say are the highest risk to stability since the 1975-90 Civil War.

Locals recently reported that the Lira stood at 4,000 pounds against the US dollar.

Since 17 October, Lebanon has been witnessing widespread protests and riots, escalating political, economic, and social demands.

Anti-government protests restarted in earnest on Sunday, after a lull in activity in the first month of the coronavirus lockdown.

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Demonstrators vented their anger at the dire living conditions, economic crisis and the rapid devaluation of the Lebanese pound by burning tyres, vandalising banks, and blocking roads in Tripoli.

Similar demonstrations took place in the southern Lebanese town of Sidon, where protesters threw stones and firecrackers at the central bank headquarters late last night, the National News Agency reported.

Protesters also took to the streets in Beirut, where, according to an AFP correspondent, demonstrators attempted to reach the Grand Serail (houses of parliament), but were pushed back by army personnel, sparking clashes.

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