Hundreds of protesters gathered in locations across Lebanon on Thursday, April 23, to demonstrate against the policies of the Central Bank of Lebanon and the rising exchange rate of the US dollar against the Lebanese pound. The price of US dollars has increased since the bank permitted people to withdraw Lebanese pounds at an artificial rate set by the bank, aimed at easing demand on the dollar. Local sources report that clashes occurred between protesters and members of the Lebanese army in Taalbaiya (Beqaa province). There were also reports of stones being thrown at the Central Bank in Sidon (South province) and banks on Hamra Street in Beirut. Hamra Street was among a number of streets and major roads closed by the protesters across the country. The protests come despite the lockdown imposed by Lebanese authorities to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
A heightened security presence and associated transportation disruptions are to be expected in the vicinity of all protests, particularly due to the COVID-19 restrictions.
Mass protests originally broke out in Lebanon on October 17, 2019, after the Lebanese 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 demands have since evolved into calls for the resignation of the government. On October 29, Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced his resignation, and on January 21, 2020, former education minister Hassan Diab was appointed as his successor.
Individuals in Lebanon are advised to monitor developments to the situation, avoid demonstrations, anticipate a heightened security presence near protest sites, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities.
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