In a televised address on Tuesday, October 29, Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced his resignation following nearly two weeks of anti-government protests.
Demonstrations and associated unrest continued across Lebanon on Tuesday. In Beirut, clashes erupted after a mob of Hezbollah supporters reportedly attacked a protest camp set up by anti-government demonstrators in Martyrs' Square. Hezbollah's Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah has publicly denounced the protest movement in recent days, warning that a power vacuum could lead the country toward civil war. Hezbollah is part of the ruling coalition government led by Prime Minister Hariri.
The Lebanese Banking Association announced on Tuesday that banks will remain closed for an eleventh consecutive working day on Wednesday, October 30, due to the ongoing protests.
Heightened security measures and disruptions to transportation and business are to be expected in major urban centers over the coming days as protests continue. Further 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 20 percent daily tax for individuals messaging 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 call for a reduction in the salaries of government officials, a plan to privatize the telecommunications sector, and a proposed overhaul of the electricity sector. At least five people were killed, and several hundred protesters and security forces wounded in the protests.
Individuals in Lebanon 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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