Clashes between protesters and security forces were reported near the Lebanese Parliament in Beirut on Saturday, January 25. Protesters had marched toward the building to mark 100 days since the outbreak of nationwide anti-government demonstrations. Riot police reportedly used water cannons and tear gas to prevent demonstrators from breaching a security barricade outside the building. There were no immediate reports of casualties.
Significant transportation and commercial disruptions are to be expected in protest-affected areas over the coming hours, and a heightened security presence is to be anticipated in Beirut over the near term. Further clashes between security forces and demonstrators cannot be ruled out.
Over 540 people were wounded during fighting between protesters and security forces across Lebanon on Saturday, January 18, and Sunday, January 19.
Mass protests originally broke out on October 17, 2019, after 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 protests forced the government to revoke the tax proposal and since then the demands evolved into calling for the resignation of the government. On October 29, Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced his resignation, and on January 21, his successor former education minister Hassan Diab, was appointed.
Individuals in Lebanon, and in Beirut in particular, 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.