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Lebanese protesters vandalize banks, demand refunds | Business and economic news

People are demanding the return of their savings and that corrupt officials should be held accountable.

Protesters in Lebanon have stormed several bank buildings, setting tires on fire and smashing windows, demanding their money be returned.

Angry demonstrations took place in suburbs outside the capital Beirut on Thursday, targeting the branches of Audi Bank, Beirut Bank and Byblos Bank in Sinfir, Mount Lebanon province.

Protesters are angry at financial controls that have wiped out many people’s life savings.

People are demanding their money back and calling for corrupt officials, including central bank governor Riad Salameh, to be held accountable.

“We’ve finished them. We’ve waited too long, enough is enough,” one protester told Al Jazeera.

Another said they were sending messages to the bank.

“We’re not going to lose our rights, not today, not in 100 years. That’s the message they need to understand,” he said.

A protester shouts slogans outside Byblos Bank during a protest calling for the release of depositors' trapped savings in Beirut, Lebanon
A protester shouts outside Byblos Bank during a protest calling for the release of depositors’ trapped savings in Beirut, Lebanon [Hussein Malla/AP]

Since 2019, Lebanon has suffered a devastating economic crisis that the World Bank considers one of the worst in modern history.

The country’s currency, the Lebanese pound, has lost more than 98 percent of its value against the dollar since the crisis began.

Experts say the country’s crisis is rooted in decades of corruption and mismanagement by the political class that has ruled Lebanon since the end of the 1975-90 civil war.

Salameh is among political-class officials caught up in corruption scandals and accused of provoking the grave crisis.

Interpol issued a notice to the governor last month after France issued an arrest warrant as part of an investigation into whether he misappropriated hundreds of millions of dollars in public funds.

Salame denies the allegations.

Thursday’s protests came after Lebanon’s parliament failed for the 12th time to elect a president and break a political deadlock that has dogged the country for months.

A policeman walks past Byblos Bank vandalized by angry protesters
A policeman walks past Byblos Bank vandalized by angry protesters [Hussein Malla/AP]

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