The banks in Lebanon – closed for the seventh straight day on Friday – were bracing for a bank run as confidence in the local currency and the country’s financial system is fading.
Banks had been limiting dollar withdrawals already for some time prior to the protests in order to prevent a run on the country’s foreign currency reserves.
The government of Prime Minister Sa’ad Hariri is expected to resign sometime within the next 24 hours, according to reports by the Al-Hadith television channel.
More than a million protesters have continued to demand a new government in the face of an economic crisis in Lebanon, which has one of the biggest debt to GDP ratios in the world, nearing 150 percent.
Pleas by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah in a televised speech, urging protesters to open the roads, had little effect, according to a report published by Asia Times.
“A vacuum, in light of the current economic situation … will lead to chaos and collapse,” Nasrallah warned.
But nearly 25 percent of the population ignored Nasrallah’s call and was continuing to hold their ground at sit-ins nationwide, initially sparked by a tax that was to be imposed on the free Whatsapp messaging service, used by nearly everyone in the country to community with loved ones abroad.
Lebanese nationals working abroad are a key source of support for those back home, sending $1.2 billion to the country in 2018, according to the Central Statistics Department.