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04 Dec 2019 | 09:38 AM UTC

Lebanon: Protesters obstruct roads across country as demonstrations continue December 4 /update 43

Protesters continue to obstruct roads across Lebanon as of December 4, as demonstrations reported in Tripoli, Baalbek, Sidon, and Zahlé following clashes between demonstrators and police in Beirut December 3; additional protests to be expected over coming days

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transportation
LBN

Event

Protesters continued to obstruct roads across Lebanon as of Wednesday, December 4, as anti-government demonstrations continued in Tripoli, Baalbek, Zahlé, and Sidon. In Tripoli, protesters reportedly assembled in front of schools, universities, and other public buildings to prevent students and staff from entering. In Baalbek, demonstrators staged a sit-in protest in front of the Central Bank of Lebanon; in Sidon, protesters displayed signs denouncing financial institutions on bank buildings. In Zahlé, protesters lighted tires on fire, blocking roads.

Wednesday's protests notably come after security forces fired tear gas to forcibly disperse hundreds of anti-government demonstrators attempting to obstruct Beirut's Ring Bridge on Tuesday night (local time), December 3.

Additional protests are to be expected nationwide, and especially in Beirut, over the coming days. Heightened security measures and disruptions to transportation and businesses are to be expected in major urban centers 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.

Advice

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