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16 Jan 2020 | 12:22 AM UTC

Lebanon: Road disruptions continue during nationwide protests January 16 /update 74

Protesters continue to block roads nationwide on January 16; heightened security presence and associated disruptions expected

financial
security
transportation
LBN

Event

As of 08:00 (local time) on Thursday, January 16, demonstrators across Lebanon are continuing to erect road blocks during the third consecutive day of protests. Activists also threatened a nationwide general strike on Thursday, after calling on the prime minister to begin processes aimed at economic recovery within 48 hours of Tuesday, January 14. The deadline came amid the ongoing 'Week of Rage.' Security personnel may use force in an attempt to clear roadblocks and disperse crowds.

On Wednesday, January 15, security forces clashed with protesters in multiple cities. In Beirut, police officers used tear gas to disperse demonstrators who were vandalizing several banks. Anti-riot police with shields and batons also violently dispersed protesters who were blocking major highways.

Significant transportation and commercial disruptions are expected in protest-affected areas, and a heightened security presence is anticipated nationwide. Further clashes between security forces and demonstrators cannot be ruled out.

Context

On October 16-17, 2019, 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.