President Michel Aoun has announced on Sunday, December 15, that the session to name the next prime minister will be delayed until Thursday, December 19. The announcement comes amid two consecutive days of violent protests in Beirut due to the ongoing economic and political crises affecting the country. Some have speculated that Saad Hariri would be appointed as prime minister again after he resigned due to pressure from the ongoing nationwide protest movement. Media sources state that Hariri wishes to develop a panel of specialists to tackle the economic problems with politicians, whereas his opponents have instead proposed a mix of politicians and experts.
Violent protests are likely to continue near Parliament, in other parts of Beirut, and in other urban centers in the coming several days as administrators officiate the decision. Transportation and business disruptions are to be expected near demonstration sites.
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.
Individuals in Beirut, and in Lebanon more generally, are advised to monitor developments to the situation, avoid all protests and demonstrations, anticipate transportation and business disruptions near demonstration sites, and adhere to instructions issued by local authorities.
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