A protester was killed in Khalde late night (local time) on Tuesday, November 12, after the army opened fire to disperse protesters who gathered following President Michel Aoun's speech announcing the formation of a technopolitical government, which will include members of traditional Lebanese parties, against the will of the protesters. The victim was reportedly a member of the Progressive Social Party (PSP).
As of the morning (local time) on Wednesday, November 13, the army has closed the area around the Baabda Presidential Palace following calls on social media for a protest outside the Palace at 11:00 to denounce Aoun's announcement. According to media reports, protesters have reopened the "Ring" road in Beirut and started heading towards the Palace. Protesters have also called for a demonstration on the road leading to the Palace at 15:00.
Similar protests are to be expected over the coming days in Lebanese cities. Heightened security measures and disruptions to transportation and business are to be anticipated near demonstration sites. 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 near demonstration sites, and adhere to instructions issued by local authorities.
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