Protests in Lebanon’s capital over worsening economic crisis

BEIRUT (AP) — Hundreds of Lebanese protested on Sunday in the country’s capital and other areas over an economic crisis that worsened over the past two weeks, with worries over dollar-reliant Lebanon’s local currency losing value for the first time in more than two decades.

Lebanon is facing a deep-running fiscal crisis as it staggers under one of the highest debt ratios in the world, at USD86 billion or more than 150 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product.

Many of Sunday’s protesters in downtown Beirut blamed Lebanese political leaders for the widespread mismanagement and corruption.

The protesters gathered shortly before noon in the central Martyrs Square, then marched toward the government headquarters where riot police were deployed.

“The people want to bring down the regime,” some of the protesters chanted as riot police stopped them from marching toward the government headquarters.

The slogan echoed that of the so-called Arab Spring uprisings of 2011. Other protesters chanted “peaceful” and tried to stop the young men who clashed with security forces.

“They should leave power because of their failure in running the country,” a protester told a local TV station. “They have turned us into poor people.”