Protests outside Lebanon's central bank governor's house

Protesters rally outside Lebanon central bank governor's house following decision to lift fuel subsidies
2 min read
14 August, 2021
Demonstrators in Lebanon attempted to raid the house of the central bank governor late Friday after his decision to completely lift subsidies on fuel, according to local media.
Dozens rallied in front of Riad Salameh's house in the Keserwan district [Getty]

Protesters in Lebanon attempted to raid the residence of the central bank governor late on Friday, after his decision to remove subsidies on fuel.

Dozens rallied in front of Riad Salameh's house in the Keserwan district, northeast of Beirut, demanding that reserves the decision, according to reports by Lebanon's National News Agency (NNA).

The angry crowed tried to break through a security barrier erected outside Salameh's house. One protester was injured by security forces.

Lebanon is gripped by one of the world's worst economic crises since the 1850's, according to the World Bank, and is struggling with shortages of fuel and other necessities, amid a black market plunge in the local currency of more than 90 percent.

Foreign exchange reserves have dwindled in recent months to now stand at $14 billion - approaching the minimum the bank is required to hold - according to Salameh.

Crippling shortages of fuel, existing alongside power cuts lasting more than 22 hours per day, have left many businesses without the diesel needed to power generators, and forced some premises to close.

The central bank's funding of fuel and other basic commodity imports has contributed to foreign reserves falling by more than 50 percent from their pre-crisis level of more than $30 billion.

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Politicians have hit out at Salameh' move, which means fuel has to be bought at the black market exchange rate - making it unaffordable to many.

Salameh has headed the central bank since 1993 and is suspected by many Lebanese of helping facilitate large transfers of money abroad by the political elite during mass protests that began in October 2019.

He is under judicial investigation in Lebanon, Switzerland and France over several cases, including the diversion of public funds and illicit enrichment.

At home, many blame him for capital controls in place since 2019 that have trapped dollar savings and denied even the poorest segment of the population free access to their deposits.