Students have gathered in Beirut and Saida as of Friday, November 8, to denounce tax increases and perceived government corruption. In Beirut, protesters have gathered outside the Lebanese University and have called for a general strike and the closure of the university until the formation of a new government is announced. In Saida, students have staged protests outside government institutions and banks, including the Bank of Lebanon Saida branch.
The Association of Banks in Lebanon announced that banks will be closed across the country on Saturday, November 9, and Monday, November 11, to observe the Mulud religious holiday, which marks the birth of Prophet Muhammad.
Heightened security measures and disruptions to transportation and businesses are to be expected in major urban centers over the coming days as protests continue. 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 daily 20 percent for 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 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 include a reduction to government officials' salaries, a plan to privatize the telecommunications sector, and a proposed overhaul of the electricity sector. Dozens of activists have been killed, and several hundred protesters and security forces wounded in the protests. On October 29, Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced his resignation.
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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