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31 Mar 2020 | 03:19 AM UTC

Lebanon: Protests reported in Beirut and Tripoli March 29 /update 94

Protesters gather despite COVID-19-related curfew in Beirut and Tripoli on March 29; avoid all protests

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Event

On Sunday, March 29, anti-government protesters gathered in Beirut's Hay el-Sellom suburb and in Tripoli to protest poor socioeconomic conditions despite the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) curfew, intended to curb the spread of the virus. Participants called for the attention of the governments and political parties to respond to the urgent needs of the public. In Hay el-Sellom, protests took place on the al-Husseiniyé shopping street. 

The government announced that a stimulus package to help the poorest was on its way, though is at least two weeks from delivery.   

A curfew is currently in place between 19:00 and 05:00 (local time).

A heightened security presence are to be expected near gatherings of anti-government demonstrators in Beirut and Tripoli. Clashes between demonstrators and security forces cannot be ruled out over the near term.

Context

Mass protests originally broke out in Lebanon on October 17, 2019, after the Lebanese 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, former education minister Hassan Diab was appointed as his successor.

Advice

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