Dozens of people staged a protest outside the Beirut residence of Prime Minister Hassan Diab on Saturday, December 28, demanding his resignation. Diab, who was appointed to the premiership on December 19, has failed to garner the support of anti-government protesters due to his connection with Hezbollah. Elsewhere in Beirut, protesters held a brief sit-in at a private bank in the capital's Hamra district, denouncing the capital controls imposed amid the country's ongoing financial crisis. A separate sit-in was also reported at a bank in Tripoli on Saturday.
Protests are likely to continue in Beirut, Tripoli, and other urban centers nationwide over the coming hours and days. A heightened security presence and transportation and business disruptions are to be expected near any demonstration site.
On October 16-17, the government approved tax hikes on tobacco products and a daily tax on messages and calls done 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, 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. On October 29, Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced his resignation. On December 19, President Michel Aoun designated former education minister Hassan Diab to serve as the next prime minister.
Individuals in Beirut, and in Lebanon more generally, are advised to monitor developments to the situation, avoid all protests and demonstrations, anticipate transportation and business disruptions near demonstration sites, and adhere to instructions issued by local authorities.
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