A protest has been reported in front of the Central Bank in the Hamra district of Beirut as of the evening (local time) of Thursday, March 5. The demonstration comes hours after a financial prosecutor ordered the assets of 20 local banks be frozen amid an investigation, which may impact the ability of those banks to remain open for business.
A heightened security presence and transportation disruptions are expected near any demonstration sites. Clashes between demonstrators and security forces cannot be ruled out.
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, former education minister Hassan Diab was appointed as his successor.
Individuals in Lebanon, particularly Beirut, 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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