On Thursday, May 21, protestors stormed the Ministry of Energy in Beirut, expressing anger over chronic power failures that have been increasingly affecting the country in the past week. The protest came as Prime Minister Hassan Diab gave a speech at the Grand Serail to celebrate his first 100 days in office.
In a separate incident, at dawn (local time) on Thursday, unknown persons set fire to a number of cars in Sidon. The motive of the attack remains unclear as of Friday, May 22.
A heightened security presence is to be expected in Beirut and Sidon in the near term, and to a lesser extent throughout Lebanon in the medium term, as protests remain likely.
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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