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Bread price hike sparks violent protests in Lebanon

Lebanese anti-government protesters chant slogans as they take part in a demonstration near the presidential palace in Baabda, east of Beirut, on June 25, 2020.

The Lebanese government on Tuesday (June 30) raised the price of a 900-gram loaf of partially subsidized bread to 2,000 pounds from its pre-October-crisis price of 1,500 pounds.

The pound, which is officially pegged at 1,500 to the dollar, has lost over 80 percent of its value since October and is now trading at nearly 9,000 to the dollar on the black market after sharp falls in recent days.

Since October Lebanon has been in a financial crisis that has seen businesses close and prices and unemployment soar.

The crisis is seen as the worst threat to its stability since the 1975-90 civil war.

The heavily indebted country has maintained an official dollar peg of 1,507.5, but dollars at this level have been rationed exclusively for imports of fuel, medicine, and wheat.

In recent days there have been long queues in bakeries as oven owners stopped selling their bread to shops, complaining that their production costs had spiraled due to the rapid depreciation in the value of the pound.

Bakeries also threatened to stop bread distribution, saying they were losing money.

The bread crisis sparked renewed anti-government protests on Saturday and Sunday as demonstrators blocked main highways across the country.

(Source: Reuters)

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