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20 Dec 2019 | 03:38 AM UTC

Lebanon: Road closures reported in Beirut, Tripoli December 20 /update 59

Road closures reported after night of protests in Beirut, Tripoli on December 20; protests likely to continue

security
transportation
LBN

Event

Road closures were reported in Beirut and Tripoli in the morning (local time) on Friday, December 20, following protests the evening prior. In Beirut, the roundabout leading to the Abdul Nasser mosque was blocked. In Tripoli, the road leading to and at Palma bridge and at the Quality Inn hotel were also cut off. Additional roadblocks were reported in other urban centers. The protests on Thursday, December 19, into Friday were mainly held by Saad Hariri supporters, who will be leaving his caretaker prime minister role with the recent nomination of Hassane Diab on Thursday.

Opposition protests are likely to continue in Beirut, Tripoli, and other urban centers nationwide in the afternoon and evening on Friday, and also remain possible into the weekend. Violent protests and clashes cannot be ruled out.  A heightened security presence and transportation and business disruptions are to be expected near any demonstration site.

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

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.