Nationwide protests call for government to step down.
Nationwide protests have held a vise grip on Lebanon since Thursday.
The protest comes shortly after Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri arrived in the UAE for a two-day visit earlier this month.
Schools, banks and businesses have shut down as protests have reached every province, the largest since 2015. This threatens to further destabilize the country’s already indebted economy and could plunge it into a political crisis.
Following is a timeline of the key dates around the the protests.
October 17: The Minister of Information announces a 20 cents-per-day fee for internet calls, including Facebook and WhatsApp, with a proposal to raise VAT to 15 per cent by 2022.
Thousands protest against the tax and accuse the government of rampant corruption and mishandling Lebanon’s economic crisis.
October 18: The government scraps the ‘WhatsApp tax’, but protests still continue, with protesters demanding that the regime step down. Protesters blame economic crisis on the government, burning tyres and setting fires in the streets. Security forces respond by firing tear gas. Amnesty International condemns act.
Hariri does not resign, but acknowledges that the country is going through an ‘unprecedented, difficult time’. He issues a 72-hour deadline to his ‘partners in government’ to stop blocking reforms.
Travel warnings issued were issued by the embassies of UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Egypt in Beirut, urging citizens not to go to the country.
October 19: Protests escalate, chanting “our demands are one, our objective is one: the people want the downfall of the regime”.
Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah confirms that the group stands with the government and is not demanding its resignation despite protests.
Following a meeting with the PM, Lebanon’s finance minister says that they have agreed on a final budget with no additional taxes or fees.
Lebanese President Michel Aoun comments on the protests in a tweet, saying that there would be a ‘reassuring solution’ to the crisis.
The Lebanese Forces party is resigning from the coalition government, announces party leader Samir Geagea.
October 20: Lebanon’s banks decide to remain closed on Monday due to protests. Protesters continue to pressure the regime to quit.
(With inputs from Reuters)
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