Student demonstrations continue in Lebanon

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Student-led protests in Beirut continued on Friday as Lebanon remains gripped by ongoing demonstrations.

Al Arabiya’s correspondent reported protesters on the street in Hasbaya, southern Lebanon, and the capital Beirut, on Friday morning. Images circultaing on social media showed a student protest scheduled outside the Ministry of Education.

Students from universities including the Lebanese American University (LAU) and American University of Beirut (AUB) have been a part of the broad protests in Lebanon, which started on October 17 in response to a proposed fee on WhatsApp call usage, and led a specific demonstration on Thursday.

“Students are protesting AUB’s decision to remain open and resume classes as usual despite the ongoing situation in the country,” AUB student Cyrus Azad told Al Arabiya English on Thursday.

“There’s a lot of political elite that are on the board of AUB and otherwise have influence in the decisions,” said Azad, referring to the university's decision to take an “impartial role.”

Other demonstrations are set to take place outside the state-run utility company Electricite du Liban and the central bank. Electricity shortages and expensive generators have been one of the many causes of people taking to the streets, while banks have also been the target of protests. Fears of an alleged dollar shortage also helped fuel protests against a worsening economic situation.

On Tuesday, ratings agency Moody's had downgraded Lebanon’s sovereign debt, saying sweeping anti-government protests had hit investor confidence and threatened marco-economic stability.

Lebanon’s outgoing Prime Minister Saad Hariri met President Michel Aoun on Thursday without announcing progress towards forming a new government, and banking sources said most financial transfers out of the country remained blocked.

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