Anti-government activists have called for a demonstration to be held in Beirut at Martyrs' Square on Saturday, June 6. Media sources suggest Lebanese activists and activist organizations from across the country, including those who participated in the October 2019 demonstrations and supporters of the Kataeb party and the Lebanese Forces party, have called on supporters to rally over various demands. Their demands include early parliamentary polls, combating corruption, and government resignation, as well as calling for the Iranian-backed militant group Hezbollah to hand their weapons over to the state. Unconfirmed media sources suggest that the protest could attract up to 15,000 participants and Prime Minister Diab reportedly cautioned protesters on Thursday, June 4, ahead of the planned protests.
Previous similar demonstrations have resulted in overland disruptions from road blockades, public and private property damaged, and clashes between security forces and protesters. These cannot be ruled out on Saturday and a heightened security presence is anticipated in the capital.
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.
Protests resumed in cities across the country on Sunday, April 26, with police and protesters clashing in Tripoli. Violent demonstrations were also reported in April and May in several cities including, though not limited to, Beirut, Tripoli and Sidon.
Individuals in Beirut 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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