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15 Jan 2020 | 05:30 AM UTC

Lebanon: General strike planned January 16 /update 73

Protesters give 48-hour deadline for government formation or a general strike will take place January 16; heightened tensions following protests on January 14

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Event

A general strike is planned across Lebanon on Friday, January 16, amid a deadline protesters issued to government. Activists called on the prime minister to form a 'neutral government' within 48 hours of Tuesday, January 14, to begin a path forward for the economically scarred country. Should the deadline not be met, the nationwide general strike will take place.

The deadline came amid the ongoing 'Week of Rage,' which saw violent and very disruptive protests on Tuesday.

Protests may take place on Thursday, January 15, though should the planned general strike on Friday go ahead, there will likely be significant transportation and commercial disruptions amid a heightened security presence.

Context

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. On December 19, President Michel Aoun designated former education minister Hassan Diab to serve as the next prime minister.

Advice

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