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17 Jan 2020 | 03:46 AM UTC

Lebanon: Further road closures reported amid nationwide protests January 17 /update 75

Protesters continue to block roads nationwide on January 17; heightened security presence and associated disruptions expected

security
transportation
LBN

Event

As of the morning (local time) on Friday, January 17, demonstrators across Lebanon are continuing to erect roadblocks during the fourth consecutive month of protests.

In downtown Beirut, protesters have blocked the Ring road and part of the highway leading to the Quarantaine district, near Dora.

In Tripoli, areas around the place Al-Nour, as well as the Palma bridge, have been blocked. Roads traffic is also reportedly disrupted in Minieh and Halba.

In Bekaa, roads have been blocked near Zahlé crossroads, as well as in Taalabaya and Saadnayel.

Security personnel may use force when attempting to clear roadblocks and disperse crowds.

Significant transportation and commercial disruptions are expected in protest-affected areas, and a heightened security presence is anticipated nationwide. Further clashes between security forces and demonstrators cannot be ruled out.

Context

On October 16-17, 2019, the government approved tax hikes on tobacco products and a daily tax on messages and calls done via the WhatsApp mobile phone messenger application. The announcement sparked mass protests across the country on October 17, forcing the government to revoke the tax proposal. Since, protests have evolved, calling for the resignation of the government and have continued despite an emergency reform package announced by Prime Minister Saad Hariri on October 21. On October 29, Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced his resignation. On December 19, President Michel Aoun designated former education minister Hassan Diab to serve as the next prime minister.

Advice

Individuals in Lebanon are advised to monitor developments to the situation, avoid demonstrations, anticipate a heightened security presence and disruptions to transportation and business near protest sites, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities.