News Alerts

22 Oct 2019 | 09:08 AM UTC

Lebanon: Roadblocks reported amid nationwide protests October 22 /update 10

Lebanon News Alert

Several roads reportedly blocked as of October 22 amid nationwide protests; heightened security presence and associated disruptions expected

TIMEFRAME expected from 10/22/2019, 12:00 AM until 10/25/2019, 11:59 PM (Asia/Beirut). COUNTRY/REGION Lebanon, Beirut

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Event

Several major roads remain blocked by protesters as of Tuesday, October 22, amid nationwide protests against tax increases and alleged government corruption. In Beirut, the Corniche el-Mazraa, the Nahr el-Mott, and the Dora highways, as well as Place Sassine in Achrafieh remained blocked by protesters as of the morning (local time) on Tuesday. Several roads leading to the capital were also blocked, including the Mirna Chalouhi, the Jal el-Dib, and the Dbayeh highways. In the north, protesters blocked the Kfar Hazir highway leading to Chekka, as well as the Chekka and Batroun highways. Authorities are working on reopening the affected roads to traffic.

Several protesters have spent the night at protest sites, including at Riad el-Solh in Beirut and in Tyr following a day of demonstrations across the country. Further protests calling for the resignation of the government are expected nationwide over the coming hours despite an emergency reform package announced by Prime Minister Saad Hariri. The packages calls for a reduction in the salaries of government officials, a plan to privatize the telecommunications sector, and a proposed overhaul of the electricity sector.

The Association of Banks in Lebanon announced on Monday that all banks across the country will remain closed on Tuesday. ATMs  have a limited cash supply, according to diplomatic sources. 

Heightened security measures and transportation and business disruptions are to be expected in major urban centers over the coming days as protests continue. Similar protests are likely in major urban areas in the coming hours. Clashes between protesters and security forces cannot be ruled out. 

Context

On October 16, the government approved tax hikes on tobacco products as part of its 2020 federal budget. Information Minister Jama Jarrah announced a 20 percent daily tax for individuals messaging via the WhatsApp mobile phone messenger application on October 17. However, the announcement sparked spontaneous protests on October 17, forcing the government to revoke the tax proposal. Protests were notably reported in Beirut, Sidon, Tripoli, Jounieh, Jbeil, and the Bekaa Valley. On October 19, members of the Lebanese Forces, a Christian political party, stepped down from government due to the inability of the current coalition government to effectively respond to the demands of protesters. Demonstrators have called for the rest of government to resign. Several hundred protesters and security forces have been injured in the protests. 

Advice

Individuals in Lebanon, and particularly in Beirut, are advised to monitor developments to the situation, avoid all protests and demonstrations as a precaution, anticipate transportation and business disruptions, and adhere to instructions issued by local authorities.

 

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