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28 Mar 2020 | 12:45 PM UTC

Lebanon: Security forces clear Martyrs’ Square protest camp, open roads in Beirut March 28 /update 93

Lebanese security forces clear protest camp around Martyrs’ Square and reopen adjacent protester-obstructed roads in Beirut on March 28; related clashes between protesters and security forces possible over the near term

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security
transportation
LBN

Event

Lebanese security forces cleared a protest camp and reopened adjacent roads previously obstructed by anti-government protesters in the Martyrs' Square area of Beirut on Saturday, March 28, after beginning to remove protester tents against opposition from demonstrators on Friday night (local time), March 27. Though Martyrs' Square has reportedly reopened to traffic as of Saturday, roads leading to Riyad al-Solh Square remain closed to traffic.

A heightened security presence and localized disruptions to transportation and business are to be expected near gatherings of anti-government demonstrators in Beirut. Clashes between demonstrators and security forces cannot be ruled out over the near term.

Context

Mass protests originally broke out in Lebanon on October 17, 2019, after the Lebanese government approved tax hikes on tobacco products and a daily tax on messages and calls done via the WhatsApp mobile phone messenger application. The protests forced the government to revoke the tax proposal and since then the demands evolved into calling for the resignation of the government. On October 29, Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced his resignation, and on January 21, former education minister Hassan Diab was appointed as his successor.

Advice

Individuals in Beirut 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.