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29 Nov 2019 | 05:52 AM UTC

Lebanon: Sit-in protests reported in Beirut November 29 /update 41

Protests continue amid ongoing indefinite petrol station strike November 29; avoid all protests

financial
LBN

Event

A sit-in protest has been reported in Beirut, at the VAT office on Friday, November 29. Riot police were called to the scene at 09:00 (local time), which only brought more protesters to the scene.

In Zahlé, protesters gathered outside the Bank of Lebanon to protest the fall of the Lebanese pound after reaching a devaluation peak. In Bahsas, protesters held a sit-in in front of the Kadicha Electricity Office, calling for the officials to leave.

The protests come amid the second day of an ongoing indefinite petrol station strike in response to financial losses sustained amid a deteriorating economic situation.

Additional protests are to be expected nationwide, though especially in Beirut, over the coming several days. Heightened security measures and disruptions to transportation and businesses are to be expected in major urban centers during the general strike and as protests continue. Clashes between protesters and between protesters and security forces cannot be ruled out.

Context

On October 16-17, the government approved tax hikes on tobacco products as part of its 2020 federal budget, as well as 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 then, 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. Former finance minister, Mohammad Safadi, who was expected to be appointed as Hariri's successor, declined on November 17, stating the difficulties to form a legitimate cabinet in this context.

Advice

Individuals in Lebanon are advised to monitor developments to the situation, avoid all protests and demonstrations as a precaution, anticipate transportation and business disruptions, and adhere to instructions issued by local authorities.