Anti-Government Protesters in Lebanon Block Major Roads, Paralyzing Country
Demonstrators brought much of Lebanon to a standstill Monday as they blocked highways and major arteries throughout the country and called for a general strike on the 19th day of mass protests against government corruption, mismanagement, sectarianism, and foreign influence. The demonstrators apologized but vowed to keep the roads closed until an “independent” government is formed. The protests began on October 17 in response to a proposed tax on use of the WhatsApp messaging platform. Faced with massive criticism, the government of Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri resigned last Tuesday. President Michel Aoun has yet to begin consultations with parliamentary bloc leaders on the designation of a new prime minister and formation of a new cabinet. Banks reopened on Friday for the first time in two weeks, after they were closed by a fear that panicked customers would withdraw all their savings, which could lead to a collapse in the economy. Schools remain closed for the third week, as are universities and many businesses.