Lebanon business group urges general strike to push for end to crisis

Lebanon business group urges general strike to push for end to crisis

A major Lebanese business group called on Monday for a three-day general strike to press divided politicians to form a government and end a crisis that has brought the economy to a standstill, Trend reports citing Reuters.

Lebanon has faced five weeks of protests, fueled by anger at corruption among sectarian politicians who have governed for decades. Demonstrators want to see the entire ruling class gone from power.

Despite the unprecedented protests, which led to the resignation of Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri on Oct. 29 and exacerbated the economic crisis, deeply divided politicians have yet to agree on a new government.

The Lebanese Economic Bodies group, which includes industrialists and bankers, called for the closure of private institutions from Thursday to Saturday to push major parties to form a new government and avert further economic damage.

“The political forces have not assumed their national responsibilities and have not shown the seriousness necessary to produce solutions to the current crisis,” it said.

Banks reopened last week after mostly being shut since unrest began on Oct. 17. Fearing capital flight and amid a hard currency shortage, commercial banks have placed tight restrictions on withdrawals and transfers abroad.

It was not clear if any banks would heed the strike call.

The hard currency shortage has spawned a black market where the price for dollars has surged since the start of unrest, reaching over 2,000 pounds to the dollar on Monday, about a third higher than the pegged rate of 1,507.5.

In its statement, the Economic Bodies group said its “escalation” would continue until a new government was formed, with further steps to be announced.

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