Lebanon witnessed hundreds of public sector workers, including teachers, retired army and police officers, and civil servants, protesting in front of the government building on Tuesday. The demonstrators expressed their frustration over the nation’s ongoing currency crisis and demanded better wages, increased medical coverage, and partial dollarisation of their salaries and pensions.
Lebanon’s financial crisis, now in its fourth year, has left over 80% of the population impoverished and severely impacted the country’s public education and services. With the national currency losing more than 95% of its value, public sector salaries have been drastically devalued, forcing some workers to survive on the equivalent of $50 a month.
As the nation’s caretaker cabinet convened to discuss the issue, caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati acknowledged the protesters’ demands as mostly justified and promised to spare no effort in addressing their concerns. However, the initially peaceful protest turned confrontational as security forces clashed with demonstrators and deployed tear gas.
Lebanon’s Parliament recently postponed the municipal elections scheduled for May 2023 due to a lack of funds. Last month, retired army soldiers also held protests, demanding better pensions and clashing with police. Prime Minister Mikati had promised to review public sector salaries at the next cabinet meeting in response to these demonstrations.
Image Credit: AFP