Dozens of Lebanese protesters were fainted at dawn on Friday when security forces used tear gas to disperse protesters in Riad al-Solh Square opposite the government headquarters, after thousands of protesters demanded that they be dropped because of the adoption of new taxes and the deteriorating living situation.
The Anatolian agency pointed out that the security forces evacuated the scene of demonstrators by firing tear gas and water cannons, and worked to chase them and beat them with batons, while demonstrators talked about the arrest of a number of them, and internal security forces said that forty of its forces were wounded in the clashes.
Since Thursday evening, Lebanon has witnessed widespread protests - the largest in years - in various parts of the country, rejecting the government's approval of new taxes, most notably a tax on Internet communications, and rejection of economic and living conditions in general.
Tents and sit-in
Protesters also set up tents in Beirut and other areas to stay in sit-ins until the government was toppled, they said, despite the government's retreat from the tax on Internet communications. Protesters blocked a number of major roads in the country and called for fighting corruption.
Two foreign workers were suffocated by a fire that spread to a building close to mass protests in Beirut, the official NNA news agency reported, adding that rescue teams were working to pull the bodies out and put out the fire.
Due to the current situation, the Ministry of Education and Higher Education decided to suspend schools and universities on Friday, and the Association of Private Banks closed the doors of banks today in anticipation of any emergency conditions.
The General Labor Union in Lebanon called for a strike to coincide with a session of the government today in the presidential palace.
|Thousands of Lebanese held a sit-in near the government headquarters, blaming it for their worsening living conditions (Reuters)|
Minister of the Interior
On the other hand, Lebanese Interior Minister Raya al-Hassan said that there is no resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri at the moment because it does not achieve any goal. The minister added in television remarks on Thursday that most of the demonstrations are peaceful, and security forces have instructions not to clash with them.
On the other hand, the head of the Progressive Socialist Party, Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, said that he called yesterday to Hariri and suggested that he resign together from the government.
The head of the Lebanese Forces Party, Samir Geagea, said in a statement that he had contacted the prime minister and Jumblatt and made contacts to find the best that could be done after the situation deteriorated.
The Minister of Communications Mohamed Choucair announced hours ago to retract the imposition of a fee equivalent to six dollars a month for the service of voice calls over the Internet, after the out of the protests that have spread throughout the country.
1:44 am live from saida #LebanonAnswed ✌🏼✌🏼 pic.twitter.com/p938WYVteE- Saleem🎭 (@SalimZaatar) October 17, 2019
Crisis and curse
The government's decision to impose this new tax and other austerity measures is due to Lebanon's economic and financial crisis due to the high budget deficit and public debt.
Lebanon's street curse has escalated in recent weeks over the deterioration of the value of the local currency, which has depreciated on the black market against the dollar, and banks have imposed a commission on the dollar's tight market.
It is noteworthy that the Lebanese government has been discussing since the days of the draft budget for 2020, which will include the imposition of new taxes to finance the deficit of the general budget, including raising taxes on tobacco and fuel and increase the value-added tax gradually.