News Alerts

19 Nov 2019 | 09:18 AM UTC

Lebanon: Clashes reported near Parliament in Beirut November 19 /update 34

Lebanon News Alert

Security forces open fire to disperse protesters outside Parliament in Beirut November 19; further violence expected

TIMEFRAME expected from 11/19/2019, 12:00 AM until 11/21/2019, 11:59 PM (Asia/Beirut). COUNTRY/REGION Lebanon

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Event

Clashes were reported outside Beirut's Parliament on the morning (local time) of Tuesday, November 19, as protesters tried to prevent a convoy, allegedly carrying Members of Parliament, from accessing the Parliament building where a session is expected to start at 11:00. Security forces reportedly fired shots in the air to disperse protesters. No casualties were immediately reported.

Tensions remain high in the area, and further clashes are expected over the coming hours as protesters have vowed to continue demonstrating and block the Parliament's session.

Furthermore, long queues were reported outside banks that reopened on Tuesday following a week-long strike by the Association of Banks in Lebanon. A heightened security has also been reported around banks. Informal capital controls will be instituted. Withdrawals will be limited to USD 1000 per week to protect against capital flight and transfers abroad will be restricted except in cases deemed to be "urgent."

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.

Context

On October 16-17, the government approved tax hikes on tobacco products as part of its 2020 federal budget, as well as 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 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. On October 29, Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced his resignation. Former finance minister, Mohammad Safadi, who was expected to be appointed as Hariri's successor declined on November 17, stating the difficulties to form a legitimate cabinet in this context.

Advice

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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