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Lebanon central bank head says he won't quit despite rumours amid crisis

FILE PHOTO: Lebanese Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh speaks during a news conference in Beirut, Lebanon, November 11, 2019. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir/File Photo

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Lebanon’s central bank governor, who has been in the post since 1993, said he had no plan to resign despite rumours he would quit amid a deep financial crisis in the Middle East nation.

Riad Salameh, the head of Banque du Liban, told CNBC in an interview broadcast on Tuesday he would press on with “what I have in my mind as a strategy to get out of this crisis”.

Salameh, long seen as a pillar of the Lebanese financial system, has faced heavy criticism over his record since the onset of the crisis that has paralysed the banking system and sunk the currency since October.

Many ordinary Lebanese accuse him and the rest of the ruling elite of driving the nation into economic chaos, made worse by a massive port blast on Aug. 4 that ruined a swathe of Beirut.

Salameh said the central bank “didn’t created the deficit in the government -- we have always called for a reduction in the deficit -- and we didn’t create the deficit in the current account”, dismissing those “spreading rumours of my resignation every day”.

He said that, in his 27 years the post, the bank had kept “this country afloat while it lived (through) wars, assassinations, civil strife”.

Salameh has said banks, which have restricted access to deposits, would leave the market if they could not raise their capital by 20% by February.

Reporting by Edmund Blair, editing by Ed Osmond

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