BEIRUT (AP) – A Lebanese parliamentarian yesterday entered a bank branch near Beirut, demanding some of her trapped savings.
Cash-strapped Lebanon in recent weeks has witnessed a surge in depositors storming bank branches to forcefully withdraw their locked savings as the country’s economy continues to spiral. On Tuesday, depositors stormed at least four banks, two of which were armed.
Lebanon’s cash-strapped banks have imposed informal limits on cash withdrawals since late 2019.
Since then, three-quarters of the population plunged into poverty, and the Lebanese pound lost some 90 per cent of its value against the dollar.
Beirut legislator Cynthia Zarazir entered a Byblos Bank branch near the capital, demanding USD8,500 from her savings to cover expenses for a surgery. The reformist lawmaker arrived with a lawyer, and negotiated with the bank branch’s management for several hours.
“I am a Lebanese citizen demanding my rights in light of this exceptional situation,” Zarazir told the press and bystanders.
Her lawyer Fouad Debs, a member of legal and advocacy group the Depositors’ Union, told The Associated Press that the bank initially made a “ridiculous” proposal to withdraw her savings in Lebanese pounds at a fraction of its dollar value.
Hours later, Zarazir left the bank having secured the money she needed for her surgery.
Meanwhile, dozens of protesters scuffled with riot police at the Central Bank’s headquarters in Beirut.
Protesters hurled rocks and molotov cocktails towards the building, and set ties on fire at the entrance.
And in Byblos, a man fired an assault rifle at the glass facade of a bank branch, after employees did not let him in without an appointment. Another man stormed a bank in the Beirut suburb of Dahiyeh demanding some of his trapped savings. According to depositors’ advocacy groups, he was unarmed.