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Lebanese protests continue for 7th consecutive day despite gov't emergency package

Anti-government protesters facing Lebanese army soldiers wave national flags in the area of Jal al-Dib in the northern outskirts of the Lebanese capital Beirut, on October 23, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

Protesters in Lebanon have taken to the streets for a seventh consecutive day to voice discontent with rising inflation and living costs, despite an economic emergency package recently unveiled by the government.

Units of the Lebanese army were deployed in a bid to open major roads in the Zouk Mosbeh area blocked by the protesters north of the capital Beirut, on Wednesday.

Skirmishes broke out as the troops struggled to unblock the roads.

Despite attempts to clear the streets of protesters, many major roads were reported to be impassable. Banks and schools were also reported to be closed across the country.

Earlier in the morning, volunteers cleaned up the streets in Beirut, which had been the scene of a large demonstration the night before.

Tens of thousands of protesters attended the rallies in Beirut and other cities on Tuesday, one day after Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri unveiled the reform package.

As part of the reforms, Lebanon’s government approved a 2020 budget envisaging a deficit of 0.6% of gross domestic product, halved the cabinet ministers’ wages and canceled a set of proposed taxes, which initially sparked the protest.

The package has, however, failed to appease the protesters.

Growth in Lebanon has plummeted in the wake of political deadlocks and an economic crisis in recent years.

Unemployment stands at more than 20 percent, according to official figures.

The Lebanese Finance Ministry says the national debt is hovering around $85 billion, which accounts for more than 150 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP).

Successive governments have failed to address a waste management crisis or improve the electricity grid, which is plagued by daily power cuts.

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