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Lebanon protesters storm electricity company as Beirut plunges into darkness

Angry Lebanese stormed the state electrical company in Beirut to protest the high power bills as the devastating economic crisis continues to blanket Lebanon in darkness.
 Lebanese protesters burn tyres during a demonstration called for by the banks depositors committee against monetary policies, on May 9, 2023. Lebanon's economic meltdown, described by the World Bank as one of the worst in recent global history, has plunged most of the population into poverty according to the United Nations. (Photo by ANWAR AMRO / AFP) (Photo by ANWAR AMRO/AFP via Getty Images)

BEIRUT — A group of Lebanese stormed the building of Lebanon’s state electricity company in the capital Beirut Tuesday to protest high power bills amid a crippling economic crisis.

Security forces and anti-riot police immediately deployed inside the Electricité du Liban (EDL) headquarters, according to local reports, after which the protesters left the premises. A delegation representing the protesters later met with EDL's director, Kamal al-Hayek, to discuss ways to reduce the monthly bills, according to the official National News Agency.

Lebanon has suffered a power crisis since the end of the civil war in 1990. Intermittent blackouts have been persistent since then amid endemic corruption and mismanagement by the ruling political elite. The crisis worsened after the October 2019 financial collapse. The government was unable to pay for fuel imports due to the collapse of the local currency, leading to shortages nationwide. In October 2021, the country’s two key power plants stopped operating due fuel shortages, plunging the country into darkness.

Power was restored later that month after the Energy Ministry received a $100 million credit line from the country’s central bank to import fuel. Still, EDL continued to ration electricity, providing citizens with a few hours of power a day. Many Lebanese have been forced to rely on private generators despite the high cost, while others have installed solar panels to generate electricity.

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