Activists have called on individuals in Beirut to block roads leading to Parliament on Monday, January 27, as the government convenes to discuss the 2020 budget. Protesters were due to begin blocking roads from 07:00 (local time), ahead of the 10:30 parliament session. However, organizers warned protesters against trying to access the Place de l'Etoile due to the security forces' orders to reportedly block anyone attempting to enter the area. The Internal Security Forces (ISF) announced scheduled road closures on Monday to limit disruptions, including the roads surrounding Place de l'Etoile, and the roads from Place Riad El-Solh until Weygand, Foch, and Allenby streets. The ISF is also employing road blocks to divert traffic in several areas in the city center, including at Kataëb headquarters, Bourj El-Murr towards Saint-Georges Hotel, Hotel Monroe towards the city center, and down Sahyoun towards Bourj El-Ghazal.
Significant transportation and commercial disruptions are to be expected in protest-affected areas over the coming hours, and a heightened security presence is to be anticipated in Beirut over the near term. Further clashes between security forces and demonstrators cannot be ruled out.
Over 540 people were wounded during fighting between protesters and security forces across Lebanon on Saturday, January 18, and Sunday, January 19.
Mass protests originally broke out on October 17, 2019, after the government approved tax hikes on tobacco products and a daily tax on messages and calls done via the WhatsApp mobile phone messenger application. The protests forced the government to revoke the tax proposal and since then the demands evolved into calling for the resignation of the government. On October 29, Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced his resignation, and on January 21, his successor former education minister Hassan Diab, was appointed.
Individuals in Beirut, and in Lebanon more generally, are advised to monitor developments to the situation, avoid demonstrations, anticipate a heightened security presence and disruptions to transportation and business near protest sites, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities.
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