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Demonstrators block roads in Lebanon protest over dire economy

Lebanese demonstrators wear face masks as they chant slogans during a protest against the collapsing Lebanese pound currency outside Lebanon's Central Bank in Beirut, Lebanon April 23, 2020.
Lebanese demonstrators wear face masks as they chant slogans during a protest against the collapsing Lebanese pound currency outside Lebanon's Central Bank in Beirut, Lebanon April 23, 2020. © REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

Demonstrators blocked roads through Lebanon late Sunday to protest the deteriorating economic situation, despite a lockdown and curfew imposed because of the coronavirus, according to the official news agency.

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Police quickly intervened to reopen the highways where the demonstrators burned tyres to block roads, the ANI national news agency said.

In Zalqa sector, northeast of Beirut, six people were injured, Lebanese Red Cross official Rodney Eid told AFP without providing further details.

An AFP photographer saw protesters setting tyres ablaze on the highway north of the capital, in the suburbs of Dbaiyeh, before the army and police moved in.

Protesters also mobilised in the main northern city of Tripoli, according to ANI.

And south of Beirut, young people set tyres ablaze on the Damour highway, the agency said.

Protesters have staged several daytime demonstrations recently, including a convoy of cars in the capital last week, despite the coronavirus lockdown and nighttime curfew.

A nationwide protest movement erupted in October last year, with hundreds of thousands of people demonstrating against the ruling elite and the rampant graft critics say has brought the economy to its knees.

Lebanon's worst economic crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war is now compounded by the coronavirus lockdown. Poverty has risen to 45 percent of the population, according to official estimates.

Its economy is forecast to contract 12 percent in 2020, according to the International Monetary Fund

The Lebanese pound has also plummeted against the dollar, resulting in high inflation.

(AFP)

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