(MENAFN) On Wednesday, Lebanese security forces were forced to use tear gas to disperse a group of protesters who attempted to break through the fence leading to the government headquarters in downtown Beirut. The majority of the protesters were retired soldiers, although there were also some policemen present. They were demonstrating against the harsh economic conditions in the country, which have been exacerbated by years of mismanagement by the ruling class. This mismanagement has led to an economic meltdown that began in late 2019.
The retired soldiers and policemen were demanding better pay and clashed with riot police and troops. Several people suffered from breathing problems as a result of the tear gas. The protesters threw stones at the officers who were protecting the government headquarters and repeatedly tried to break through the fence.
The protest was called for by retired soldiers and depositors who have had limited access to their savings after local banks imposed informal capital controls as a means of dealing with the crisis. These controls restrict cash withdrawals from accounts to prevent banks from collapsing in the face of currency shortages. People with dollar accounts can only withdraw small sums in Lebanese pounds, which are exchanged at a rate far lower than that of the black market.
The situation in Lebanon has been difficult for some time, with high levels of inflation, a weakening currency, and widespread corruption. The COVID-19 pandemic has only made things worse, with unemployment rates rising and many businesses struggling to stay afloat. The protests that occurred on Wednesday are just one example of the frustration and anger felt by many Lebanese citizens towards their government and the economic situation in the country.
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