BEIRUT (Reuters) – Lebanon’s banks and schools were shut on Tuesday in a new wave of disruption as politicians struggled to agree on a new government to steer the country out of its worst economic crisis since the 1975-90 civil war.
President Michel Aoun said formal consultations with MPs to nominate a new prime minister and form the cabinet would be held soon. Ahead of the formal discussions, politicians have been trying to agree on the composition of the government to replace caretaker Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri’s outgoing cabinet.
Bank - Branches - Half - October - Fears
Bank branches, which were closed for nearly half of October, shut again on fears for the safety of staff who have felt intimidated by customers demanding access to their money and protesters who have gathered at banks, a union leader said.
The demonstrations have been fueled by anger at Lebanon’s ruling elite, including several ageing former militia leaders, widely perceived to have overseen rampant state corruption for decades.
Country - Need - Government - Emergency - Measures
The country is in urgent need of a new government to enact emergency economic measures, and worries are growing about a slowdown in payments for imports of basic necessities.
The economic crisis stems largely from a slowdown of capital inflows which has led to a scarcity of U.S. dollars and generated a black market where the Lebanese pound has weakened below its official pegged rate.
Exchange - Dealer - Dollar - Pounds - Tuesday
A foreign exchange dealer said a dollar was costing 1,820 pounds on Tuesday, around the level cited on Friday when banks were last open and around 20% weaker than the official pegged rate of 1,507.5 pounds.
Since reopening on Nov. 1 after a two-week closure, banks have been seeking to prevent capital flight by imposing restrictions on dollar withdrawals and transfers abroad.
“We aim to meet with...
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