Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced on Wednesday, December 18, that he will not run as a candidate for prime minister in the next election. This announcement comes amid protests in Beirut and across Lebanon demanding the appointment of a prime minister independent of the perceived-corrupt political class. The Lebanese Parliament is expected to gather for formal consultations on Thursday, December 19, to nominate a new candidate for prime minister.
Violent protests are likely to continue near Parliament, in other parts of Beirut, and in urban centers nationwide over the coming hours and days. A heightened security presence and transportation and business disruptions are to be expected near any demonstration site.
On October 16-17, 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. 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. On December 16, President Aoun delayed a parliamentary session to name the appointment of the next prime minister.
Individuals in Beirut, and in Lebanon more generally, are advised to monitor developments to the situation, avoid all protests and demonstrations, anticipate transportation and business disruptions near demonstration sites, and adhere to instructions issued by local authorities.