Anti-government protesters clashed with security forces during demonstrations in Jounieh (Mount Lebanon province) on Thursday, June 18. The demonstrators blocked the city's main road and set fire to debris to demand the release of activist Michel Chamoun. Chamoun had been arrested earlier in the day for posting an online video calling President Michel Aoun's tenure a "humiliation". The clashes broke out as the army tried to clear the Jounieh-Beirut highway. Earlier on Thursday, a security forces member was injured by a projectile as Chamoun was transferred to a detention center in Jounieh.
Further demonstrations in Jounieh and throughout Lebanon are likely in the near term. Clashes between protesters and security forces, as well as localized transport disruption, are possible at protest sites.
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.
Recent protests have been denouncing ongoing economic hardship in Lebanon, the fall in the value of the Lebanese pound, and the government's handling of the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
Individuals in Lebanon are advised to monitor developments, avoid all demonstrations and political gatherings, anticipate a heightened security presence near protest sites, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities.
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