Anti-government protesters gathered in multiple locations throughout Lebanon on Tuesday evening (local time), April 28, following the death of a protester in an earlier clash with security forces. Media outlets indicate that 60 people were injured in Tripoli, including 40 soldiers. Protesters reportedly threw stones at troops and set fire to banks using Molotov cocktails. Security forces responded by firing tear gas and rubber bullets at the demonstrators, and fired live rounds into the air in attempts to disperse the crowds. Further protests took place in other cities of Lebanon, including a solidarity protest in Beirut's Martyrs' Square. During the unrest, protesters blocked major highways nationwide.
Protests have stepped up in recent weeks as the Lebanese pound collapses. Banks have been the principal target, as they are seen as responsible for Lebanon's recent economic difficulties. As a result, the Lebanese banking association declared on Monday, April 27 that all banks would be shut in Tripoli from April 28, until order is restored. The recent protests have taken place despite the lockdown measures imposed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
A heightened security presence and associated transportation disruptions are to be expected in the near term.
As of April 29, there are 717 confirmed cases of COVID-19 nationwide, with 24 associated deaths. Further international spread of the virus is expected over the near term.
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.
Copyright and Disclaimer