Lebanon is in the grip of its worst economic turmoil in decades and holding talks with the International Monetary Fund to secure billions in aid.
Lebanese cut roadways with burning tyres and rubbish bins across Beirut and other cities on Thursday in renewed protests sparked by a rapid fall in the pound currency and mounting economic hardship.
The pound slid to about 5,000 to the dollar on Thursday and has lost 70 percent of its value since October, when Lebanon descended into a financial crisis seen as the biggest threat to stability since the 1975-90 civil war.
Prime Minister Hassan Diab called for an emergency Cabinet meeting to be held on Friday to discuss the monetary situation, a statement from his office said.
From the northern city of Tripoli to the southern city of Sidon, Lebanese chanted against the political elite and set fire to major roadways across the country in the most widespread unrest since a coronavirus lockdown imposed in mid-March.
"No work, no food"
Protesters in Tripoli, Lebanon's second-biggest city, threw petrol bombs at a central bank building, setting it ablaze and prompting security forces to fire tear gas, according to witnesses.
A throng of protesters blocked a key road in the centre of the capital Beirut, an AFP journalist reported.
"Thief, thief, Riad Salame is a thief!" demonstrators chanted, referring to the governor of the central bank.
"The people demand the fall of the regime!" they shouted.
Demonstrators also chanted slogans of national unity, after sectarian clashes shook Beirut during protests last weekend.
"People can't take it anymore, that's enough," said Haitham, a protester in central Beirut.
"People have no work, no food to eat. They cannot buy medicines, nappies or milk for their children."
Lebanon's economic crunch has caused poverty to soar to 45 percent of the population and pushed unemployment up by 35 percent. It has also sparked steep inflation, including on imported products.
The crisis, rooted in decades of corruption and waste, has brought soaring food prices and unemployment and capital controls that have severed Lebanese from their hard currency savings.
The unrest comes as Beirut holds talks with the International Monetary Fund for a reform programme it hopes will secure billions of dollars in financing and put its economy back on track.