Prime Minister Hassan Diab has decided to hold an “emergency cabinet session,” the Premiership said Thursday evening, as the country erupted in anger over a historic rise in the dollar exchange rate in scenes reminiscent of the October 17 uprising.
“PM Hassan Diab has called off his appointments for tomorrow, Friday to hold an emergency cabinet session aimed at discussing the monetary situation,” the Premiership said in a statement.
The session will be held “at 9:30 am at the Grand Serail,” the Premiership added, noting that “the session will be resumed at 3:00 pm at the presidential palace.”
Protesters took to the streets across Lebanon on Thursday, blocking most of the country’s main roads, as reports said the dollar was selling at at historic rate of LBP 7,000 on the black market.
The dramatic collapse of the Lebanese lira coincides with a currency crash in neighboring Syria, amid reports that the two financial situations are affecting each other.
Lebanon is in the grips of its worst economic turmoil in decades, and holding talks with the International Monetary Fund towards securing billions in aid to help overcome it.
The Lebanese pound remains pegged to the U.S. currency at a rate of 1,507 per dollar, but its value has tumbled on the black market in recent months.
The new nadir comes despite government pledges to halt the pound’s devaluation, and the money changers’ union issuing a maximum daily buying rate of 3,890 and selling rate of 3,940.
Lebanese banks have gradually restricted dollar withdrawals since late last year, forcing those in need to buy them at a higher rate on the black market.