Protesters across Lebanon blocked roads on Friday for a second day in demonstrations targeting the government over the worsening economic and financial situation.
In what is being described as Lebanon’s biggest protest in recent years, thousands of people gathered outside the government headquarters in central Beirut on Thursday evening, forcing the cabinet to backtrack on plans to raise a new tax on WhatsApp voice calls.
Tear gas was fired as some demonstrators and police clashed in the early hours.
“It was the last straw,” 41-year-old Rami told Al Jazeera, as men threw wood ripped from a nearby construction site onto a bonfire in the middle of the capital’s main thoroughfare.
“The people were already at the edge barely holding on. The WhatsApp issue broke whatever they were still holding on to.”
The government is assessing a series of further belt-tightening measures it hopes will rescue the country’s ailing economy and secure $11bn in aid pledged by international donors last year.
Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri was forced to cancel a cabinet meeting due on Friday to discuss the 2020 draft budget – with Lebanese media reporting he would instead make a speech on the protests.