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Lebanese Banks Close Amid Growing Turmoil

(Associated Press) Lebanon’s national news agency says the country’s banks will be closed for two extra days over the weekend amid deepening turmoil and public anxiety over liquidity and sustained anti-government protests.

The National News Agency says the banks will be closed both on Saturday and Monday, along with the regular Sunday closure for the weekend.

The report says this will allow for the observation of the holiday celebrating Prophet Mohammad’s birthday, which is set for Monday in Lebanon.

Earlier, banks were closed for two weeks amid nationwide protests calling for the government to resign. After reopening last week, individual banks imposed irregular capital controls to protect deposits and prevent a run on the banks.

Lebanon is one of the world’s most heavily indebted countries.

The World Bank’s regional director is urging Lebanon to form a new Cabinet “within a week” to prevent further degradation and loss of confidence in its economy.

Saroj Kumar Jha told The Associated Press on Friday that the increasing risks to Lebanon’s economic and financial stability are deeply concerning.

Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned his government on Oct. 29 in response to unprecedented anti-government protests which have swept Lebanon starting in the middle of last month.

The protesters erupted over proposed new taxes and have snowballed into calls for the government and for the entire political elite to resign, further paralyzing the country.

More than a week after Hariri resigned, President Michel Aoun has not yet set a date for consultations with heads of parliamentary blocs to name a new premier.

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