Lebanese angry in the streets over an open-ended gas station strike

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — Angry Lebanese on Friday cut off a number of main roads, while others left their cars in the streets after running out of gasoline as a result of an open strike by gas stations for a second day.

The union is protesting against the “prolonged losses suffered by the Gaza Strip” due to a liquidity crisis with two exchange rates for the dollar in the market, in the wake of popular protests since October 17 against the political authority.

Drivers blocked several roads in Beirut and other areas, including Tripoli, in the north in part after the stations failed to supply their cars and motorcycles with petrol, the official NNA news agency and AFP photographers reported.

The majority of the stations committed to the strike, while few open their doors, amid the rush of drivers and stampede.

“My bike is out of gasoline and I have been waiting for three hours,” Yahya al-Shami told AFP as he waited in front of a gas station in the Cola locality in Beirut.”

“The station opens for half an hour and then closes because the drivers are quarreling,” he said as the screams rose around him.

An AFP photographer saw dozens of young men carrying plastic bottles waiting to be filled in a state of tension before blocking the protest.

“I walked through 10 stations looking for fuel and I didn’t get up, so I left my car in the middle of the road,” one woman told LBC television excitedly.

The strike of gas stations, which had already carried out warning moves after the start of the demonstrations, comes on the impact of a severe liquidity crisis and tight banking restrictions on the withdrawal of dollars. Depositors can barely withdraw $ 500 per week.

Despite the facilities provided by the Banque du Liban to facilitate the importers of wheat, medicine and fuel to the dollar, this did not limit their losses, they said, with two exchange rates for the dollar.

The exchange rate of the lira at the cashiers on Thursday fell to 2300 against the dollar, after it was fixed for decades at 1507 lira. Banks closed on Friday to protest the blame for the exchange rate crisis.

Lebanon faces an economic collapse that is likely to worsen, with political forces unable to form a government, a month after Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned under pressure from the street demanding the departure of the political class combined.

Countries and donors urged political leaders to speed up the formation of a government.

“Creating a credible and efficient government that can win the trust of the people and Lebanon’s international partners is a priority,” UN Special Coordinator Jan Kubic said in tweets.

He said that he discussed with the Governor of the Banque du Liban Riad Salameh “the necessary measures required to stop further deepening the economic crisis and to increase the capacity of the banking sector to face the pressures.”

The financial crisis was the focus of a meeting at the presidential palace on Friday attended by President Michel Aoun and Salama and representatives of the banking sector and concerned, which ended with the mandate of Salama to take measures that “maintain stability and confidence in the banking and monetary sector .. and the rights of depositors without any diminution” without clarifying what it is.

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