Lebanese rally against rescue plan as government inquires IMF assistance

Hundreds of Lebanese rallied Friday outside the central bank in Beirut and elsewhere in the country, a day after the prime minister announced he would attempt a rescue plan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to dispense with a spiralling economic and financial crisis.

The demonstrators scrutinised the government’s handling of the unprecedented crisis that marked the local currency crash, destroy their savings and send prices and inflation rising. Fights broke out outside a private bank and troops were seen hitting and pulling away at least one protester, France 24 reported.

The government “is not even providing the most basic needs”, said a protester in Beirut, Ahmad Demashqia. There were also rallies in northern and southern Lebanon to commemorate May Day, the International Labour Day.

Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab on Friday approved the official request for assistance from IMF. He told the government has taken “the first step on the path to saving Lebanon from the deep financial pit”. On Thursday, the Cabinet had affirmed a long-awaited rescue plan.

According to France 24, France on Friday stated it was essential that Lebanon implements the reforms, calling the rescue plan as essential for the country’s recovery.

“It is on this basis that France stands ready to support the efforts of Lebanon,” French foreign ministry spokeswoman Agnes von der Muhll said in a statement.

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