On Friday, January 24, members of parliament called for heightened security measures in the vicinity of Parliament in Beirut following several days of protest and violent clashes. Protesters have previously gathered in protest outside Parliament, going as far as trying to break into the building. The call comes as the country's new government comes into session and seeks to find solutions to the ongoing economic and social issues that have thrown the country into disarray.
Ant-government protests are likely to continue over the coming several days. A heightened security presence is to be anticipated in the vicinity of Parliament, as well as in other parts of Beirut. Such is also possible in other major cities, particularly around any protest site. Further clashes between security forces and demonstrators cannot be ruled out.
Over 540 people were wounded during fighting between protesters and security forces across Lebanon on Saturday, January 18, and Sunday, January 19.
Mass protests originally broke out on October 17, 2019, after 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 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, his successor former education minister Hassan Diab, was appointed.
Individuals in Lebanon, and in Beirut in particular, 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.