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Lebanon businesses strike in protest at political impasse - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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A closed First National Bank branch is seen in Beirut September 4, 2013. (REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir)

A closed First National Bank branch is seen in Beirut September 4, 2013. (REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir)

Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat—A strike called by Lebanon’s Economic Committees, a body which represents private sector groups, in protest against the failure to form a government paralyzed the country on Wednesday.

Despite initial disagreement between the Teachers’ Union and the Economic Committees, the two eventually agreed to strike action, demanding the speedy formation of a new government.

Lebanon has been ruled by a caretaker government since the resignation of former prime minister Najib Mikati April. The prime minister-designate, Tammam Salam, has yet to form a government.

The closure of banks in a number of Lebanese towns paralyzed trade in those areas. Government departments and other offices worked normally.

President Michel Suleiman, meanwhile, met a delegation of businessmen in Beirut on Wednesday to discuss their concerns. He said “the current developments in the region, especially in Syria, made it imperative that everyone adhered to the Baabda declaration to remain impartial regarding the problems and struggles of others.”

Suleiman added “Lebanon might be the only country in the world where employers have decided to cease work in protest at the economic dangers that threaten the country. This is an action which is a cry for the situation to be remedied.”

Adnan Kassar, a former government minister and current head of the Economic Committees in Lebanon, said “the success of the strike has shown that the Economic Committees were right in their action.” He called for a government to be formed as soon as possible to avert further strikes.

Meanwhile, the governor of the Central Bank of Lebanon, Riad Salameh, said on Monday that Lebanese banks had succeeded in overcoming the negative effects of the Syrian crisis. He said that the country’s banks had managed to boost their reserves, despite the difficulties.

Salameh told a banking conference in Beirut that “Lebanese banks have overcome the effects of the crises in Syria, Egypt and Cyprus, and are currently operating in the same pattern before these problems started. These banks have amassed the required reserves and provisions so they can remain immune from the conflicts that surround them.”

In another development, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim late on Tuesday told Associated Press that “Beirut asked the World Bank to take the lead in preparing a quick assessment of the socioeconomic impact of the war in Syria, to be presented during a Sept. 25 meeting of an international support group for Lebanon at the United Nations General Assembly.”

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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