As Lebanon’s economy continued sinking, several leaders of the country called for seeking assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to help in addressing the country’s economic problems. Meanwhile, a clash emerged between the protestors and security forces in Beirut on Tuesday as the protestors tried to stop political leaders who were coming for conducting a vote of confidence against the ruling government in the Parliament.
Protests Rejecting New Government
Several people were injured in Beirut on Tuesday, February 11, 2020, in clashes between security forces and protesters who held demonstrations against the country’s leader to form a new government. As reported by Reuters, police used tear gas and water cannon at hundreds of protestors who were preventing ministers from entering parliament. The Lebanese Red Cross said that around 280 people were injured and 39 were hospitalized due to the clash.
Lebanon has been facing a decade rooted financial crisis due to prolonged corrupted practices within the political leaders. Lebanon’s crisis erupted last year as several international monetary assistance were stopped due to the delay of economic reforms in the country which has led to currency crunch and protests that emerged against the ruling elites.
A protestor named Lama Tabbara, 34, said, “People are suffering and the government is not listening. It takes a long time to uproot an old rotten tree and that’s what the government represents.” Reuters reported, protestors hurled eggs and paint at the cars of ministers arriving near parliament but the parliament session was convened despite the scuffles. At the beginning of the session, Parliament Speaker, Nabih Berri said a minister was injured after being hit in the face and head by stones from protestors.
IMF Help to Address Country’s Economy
The Speaker, Berri said, during the session, Lebanon should seek IMF technical assistance for formulating an emergency exit for economic turmoil but the country could not surrender to the IMF. Considering the country’s maturing foreign debt on March 9, 2020, Berri recalled, “Lebanon will be able to form its position on the maturing Eurobonds – whether to pay its commitments or not to pay them – based on what the IMF advises.”
Citing the urgent needs of the foreign assistance, the speaker explained that Lebanon must take the advantage of the time left before the country’s debt maturity was over by seeking foreign “specifically to the Americans.”
Beeri mentioned, “There is still room for Lebanon during the coming two weeks and before the end of the current month to benefit from this measure.” As Reuters quoted Berri’s statement, “that the Lebanese people would be unable to bear IMF conditions and the country was not Greece or Argentina – which have experienced their own financial crises.”
Similarly, senior FPM lawmaker Alain Aoun told Reuters that the country would seek IMF technical assistance and should draw its decision on IMF advice on whether to pay the Eurobond. Moreover, Prime Minister Hassan Diab, who formed the government last month, mentioned ‘painful steps’ in addressing the crisis and also emphasized on cutting interest rates of the foreign investors besides seeking help from them.
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