Truck drivers, bus drivers and others blocked major roads in the Lebanese capital and other areas on Thursday, protesting against politicians’ failure to tackle a stifling economic crisis that in local currency sank the land and skyrocketed prices.
The Lebanese pound has been in a downward spiral since 2019, when the economy collapsed under a mountain of debt. However, the cabinet, which was formed in September and pledged to start reforming the economy, has not convened for three months, amid an argument between the parties over the course of investigation into the explosion of the destroyed port of Beirut in 2020.
During a demonstration in a main square in a Beirut suburb, Muhammad al-Miqdad, 58, called on everyone to take to the street and said, “If we wait for our leaders or parties, no one will care.”
He continued, as dozens of trucks were obstructing traffic, “I want any official, the president, the prime minister, the parliament speaker, to try to live on the salary of a simple worker, even for one day.”
Similar rallies have blocked roads elsewhere in the country.
The representative of fuel distributors, Fadi Abu Shakra, said that the rise in the exchange rate had caused many problems. He said that the rise made the Lebanese hungry and made all citizens poor.
President Michel Aoun is seeking to push the various sectarian factions to hold a national dialogue conference, but the talks this week have so far attracted support only from close allies. Some opponents said that such a conference should wait until after the parliamentary elections scheduled for May.