Lebanese protest over proposed new taxes

BEIRUT 

Protests erupted Thursday in Lebanon amid government plans to impose a fee on calls over WhatsApp and similar applications amid the worsening economy.

Hundreds of people took to the streets nationwide in protest, including the capital Beirut.

Protesters gathered in downtown Beirut and marched to the government palace demanding that the authorities pull the proposed new levy.

The bodyguard of an official reportedly fired warning shots in the air as a group of protesters tried to block a road in Beirut where a convoy was passing.

Telecommunications Minister Mohammad Choucair later announced that the proposal would be withdrawn based on Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s request.

Hariri later spoke by phone with President Michel Aoun and they agreed to meet Friday at the presidential palace.

As the economic crisis deepens in Lebanon, various protests have been held at intervals.

On Sept. 3, Hariri declared a state of emergency.

Lebanon has been facing economic troubles due to refugee waves from Syria after the civil war broke out in 2011.

International credit rating agency Fitch downgraded Lebanon’s credit rating from B- to CCC on Aug. 24.
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