BEIRUT (AP) — Lebanon’s security forces were struggling to reopen roads on Thursday as demonstrators continued their campaign of disobedience in support of anti-government protests. Banks, schools and many businesses have been affected since protests began on October 17. The demonstrations broke out after a proposal to impose a tax on the WhatsApp messaging service, but quickly grew to petitions for government resignation and radical political change.
Schools were scheduled to resume classes for the first time in two weeks, but on Wednesday night many parents received text messages that the institutions would be closed for security reasons. The state-owned National News Agency reported that schools in some areas would still not teach until further notice. Banks were scheduled to reopen on Friday, amid concerns that the severe fiscal crisis that preceded the protests could worsen. Meanwhile, government offices and businesses remained closed in northern Lebanon, following overnight clashes in which the Army used tear gas to disperse the protesters, injuring seven of them. President Michel Aoun, one of the main causes of the protesters’ annoyance, was scheduled to deliver a speech in the coming hours. Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned on Tuesday, representing the protest movement’s first victory, but plunged the country into greater uncertainty. It usually takes weeks or months to form a new government.» They try to divide the street, but the street has a very clear demand: We want to breathe clean air and stop the thefts,» said Rania, a Beirut protester who refused to give her surname for security reasons.