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Lebanese Protesters Sing Into the Night, Unsatisfied With New Economic Reforms

Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri says new reforms meant to work toward protesters' demands but some of Lebanon's dollar-denominated bound dropped to record lows

Reuters
Reuters
Lebanese protesters take to the streets during demonstrations to demand better living conditions and the ouster of a cast of politicians in Beirut, October 21, 2019.
Lebanese protesters take to the streets during demonstrations to demand better living conditions and the ouster of a cast of politicians in Beirut, October 21, 2019.Credit: AFP
Reuters
Reuters

Lebanon approved an emergency reform package on Monday in response to protests over dire economic conditions, but the moves did not persuade demonstrators to leave the streets or investors to halt a plunge in its bonds.

Protesters sang into the night in Beirut and continued to demonstrate in other parts of the country.

Hundreds of thousands of people have flooded the streets since Thursday, furious at a political class they accuse of pushing the economy to the point of collapse. Roads were blocked for a fifth day across the country.

Schools, banks and businesses were closed, and the banks are expected to remain shut on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, in a televised speech, said the new measures might not meet the protesters' demands but were a start towards achieving some of them.

But despite the reforms, Lebanon's dollar-denominated bounds suffered hefty losses on Monday following sharp drops on Friday. Some sank to record lows.

Lebanese protesters carry a placard which reads "Love in the time of Lira," Beirut, October 21, 2019.Credit: AFP

Investors said the turmoil showed Lebanon was running out of time to fix its economic problems.

The protests have been extraordinary because of their size and geographic reach in a country where political movements are normally divided on sectarian lines and struggle to draw nationwide appeal.

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