Anti-government protest organizers have called for additional protests on Wednesday, May 13, ahead of a four-day coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdown that will enter into effect on the night (local time) of Wednesday. Participants are set to gather in El Mina from 14:00 to 16:00 to protest the rise in food prices.
Anti-government protests were reported across Lebanon on Monday, May 11, and on Tuesday, May 12. Protesters in Beirut gathered on May 11 at the military court and the Ministries of Justice, Education, Economy, and the Interior, while those in Zahleh and Tripoli gathered at the Ministry of Education in each city. On May 12, a protest was held in front of the French Embassy in Beirut.
Related demonstrations may continue in Lebanon, both during and after the four-day lockdown. An expected increased presence of security forces and disruptions to transportation and business around protests are likely to be compounded by the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions in the country.
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 (LBP). 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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