Banks suspend open-ended strike a day before Ramadan


Lebanon’s struggling banks resumed work Wednesday on the occasion of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, after a day of protests and sharp currency swings.

The Association of Banks announced Tuesday night that all lenders in the country will suspend the strike and resume work Wednesday.

Last month, Lebanese commercial banks went on an open-ended strike after Lebanon’s Court of Cassation overturned a 2022 verdict in favor of Fransabank, sued by two depositors demanding their money in cash. Later that month, angry protesters smashed windows and set tires on fire outside two of the country’s biggest banks in Badaro.

On Tuesday, protesters closed down major roads in parts of the country, including the main north-south highway, as well as others in Beirut and the eastern Bekaa Valley, after the Lebanese pound briefly hit a new low.

Later on Tuesday, the central bank said it will be selling the U.S. dollar for 90,000 pounds and called on banks to end their strike and take part in the sale. After the statement was issued, the pound regained some of its value selling for 110,000 pounds to the dollar.

The crash of the pound came days before the start of Ramadan.

“The situation is very bad especially with the rise of the dollar. You cannot buy anything here," said Beirut resident Essam Rayes about the rising prices of food products.

The striking banks had reopened their doors in late February following caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s request to do so for people to retrieve their salaries. Last Tuesday, the banks shuttered their doors again and slammed the judiciary for not “correcting flaws” in recent lawsuits against them.

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