Thousands of people gathered at the Baabda Presidential Palace on Sunday, November 3, in a rally of support for President Michel Aoun amid calls for his resignation. Supporters reportedly arrived in a large convoy and staged the rally on the road leading to the palace, outside of Beirut. This counter demonstration comes ahead of a planned anti-government protest set to take place in Beirut later on Sunday. Since October 17, protesters have called for Aoun's resignation alongside other demands.
Banks in Lebanon reopened on Friday, November 1, without major incident after being closed for approximately two weeks due to ongoing opposition protests.
Heightened security measures and disruptions to transportation and businesses are to be expected in major urban centers over the coming days as protests continue. Further clashes between protesters and security forces cannot be ruled out.
On October 16-17, the government approved tax hikes on tobacco products as part of its 2020 federal budget, as well as a 20 percent daily tax for individuals messaging via the WhatsApp mobile phone messenger application. The announcement sparked mass protests across the country on October 17, forcing the government to revoke the tax proposal. Since then, protests have evolved calling for the resignation of the government and have continued despite an emergency reform package announced by Prime Minister Saad Hariri on October 21. The packages call for a reduction in the salaries of government officials, a plan to privatize the telecommunications sector, and a proposed overhaul of the electricity sector. Dozens of activists have been killed, and several hundred protesters and security forces wounded in the protests. On October 29, Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced his resignation.
Individuals in Lebanon are advised to monitor developments to the situation, avoid all protests and demonstrations as a precaution, anticipate transportation and business disruptions, and adhere to instructions issued by local authorities.
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