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15 Dec 2019 | 02:00 AM UTC

Lebanon: Opposition activists plan protest in Beirut December 15 /update 49

Activists have called for a protest in Beirut on December 15; heightened security presence and associated disruptions expected

security
transportation
LBN

Event

Opposition activists have called for a protest in Beirut on Sunday, December 15, in response to the violent clashes between protesters and police officers that broke out in the night (local time) on Saturday, December 14. Participants plan to gather from 16:00 at the Martyr's Square

On Saturday night, security forces reportedly fired tear gas and rubber bullets at opposition demonstrators in Beirut who were attempting to break through barriers guarding the Lebanese parliament building and government headquarters. At least 14 people were wounded in the clashes.

Similar opposition protests and clashes between demonstrators and police are possible in Beirut and other Lebanese cities over the near term. Transportation and business disruptions are to be expected near demonstration sites.

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.

Advice

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.