Protesters staged gatherings in major cities nationwide on Friday, May 1, in the sixth consecutive day of unrest despite coronavirus disease (COVID-19) movement and social distancing measures. Demonstrators gathered in Beirut's Riad El-Solh Square and in Martyrs' Square, in addition to conducting a march from the Ministry of Labor office in Achrafieh district towards the Banque du Liban. Protesters also rallied at Al-Nour Square, Tripoli. Reports also suggest that further protests took place in Nabatieh. Further demonstrations are anticipated over the coming days and weeks.
A heightened security presence and associated transportation disruptions are to be expected to continue over the near term.
Protests resumed in cities across the country on Sunday, April 26, with police and protesters clashing in Tripoli. Violent demonstrations were also reported in Sidon and several other cities on Wednesday, April 29. Banks have been the principal target, as they are seen as responsible for Lebanon's recent economic difficulties and the collapse of the Lebanese pound. Banks remain closed in Tripoli following an announcement by the Lebanese banking association declared on Monday, April 27.
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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