Cairo: Lebanon’s petrol stations syndicate chief announced on Friday night that the union will suspend its strike starting tonight, state news agency (NNA) quoted Sami Al Brax as saying.
Lebanese daily Al Nahar cited Al Brax saying the union was suspending its strike to hold talks with authorities and added the syndicate would have a meeting on Monday.
The union had called for an open-ended strike starting Thursday because of losses incurred from having to buy dollars on a parallel market, the main source of hard currency during the country’s economic crisis.
Earlier, Friday, angry motorists had blocked roads with their vehicles in Beirut and other parts of Lebanon, creating traffic jams to protest a strike by owners of gas stations demanding an increase in gasoline prices as the local currency drops and the nation slides deeper into a financial crisis.
The road closures around Lebanon came as President Michel Aoun headed a meeting of the country’s top economic officials to discuss the rapidly deteriorating economic and financial situation in the country.
Nationwide protests that began October 17 over widespread corruption and mismanagement have worsened Lebanon’s worst economic and financial crises since the 1975-90 civil war ended, as did the resignation of the government late last month. Although Hariri resigned his government on October 29, Aoun has not yet set a date for binding consultations with heads of parliamentary blocs to name a new premier.
The protests were initially sparked by new taxes but quickly evolved into calls for the entire political elite to step aside.
Friday’s meeting was attended by the ministers of economy and finance as well as the Central Bank’s chief and the head of the banking association as well as the economic adviser of outgoing Prime Minister Sa’ad Hariri.
Lebanon is one of the world’s highest indebted countries and the country’s banking sector has imposed unprecedented capital control amid a widespread shortage of dollars. People have not been allowed in recent weeks to withdraw as much as they want from their bank accounts.
The price of the dollar has dropped 40 per cent on the black market after it was stable at 1,507 pounds to the dollar since 1997.