Protesters have gathered at Place Elia in Saida in the morning (local time) of Friday, November 15, following the agreement reached by parties in Parliament to appoint Mohammad Safadi, the former Minister of Finance, as Prime Minister. The army has reportedly been largely deployed in the vicinity of the demonstration site as protesters blocked adjacent streets.
A related sit-in is planned at 15:00 in Zaitunay Bay in Beirut, as Safadi is one of the main shareholders of the marina. A heightened security presence is expected in the area over the coming hours as tensions remain high in the country since President Michel Aoun's speech on Tuesday, November 12, announcing the formation of a technopolitical government, against the will of the protesters.
Similar protests are to be expected over the coming days in Lebanese cities. Heightened security measures and disruptions to transportation and businesses are to be anticipated near demonstration sites. Clashes between protesters and security forces cannot be ruled out.
On October 16-17, the government approved tax hikes on tobacco products as part of its 2020 federal budget, as well as a daily 20 percent for 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. The packages include a reduction to government officials' salaries, a plan to privatize the telecommunications sector, and a proposed overhaul of the electricity sector. Dozens of activists have been killed and several hundred protesters and security forces wounded in the protests. On October 29, Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced his resignation.
Individuals in Lebanon are advised to monitor developments to the situation, avoid all protests and demonstrations as a precaution, anticipate transportation and business disruptions near demonstration sites, and adhere to instructions issued by local authorities.