Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 February 2020

Timeline: the Lebanese uprising as it unfolded

The main dates in Lebanon's four months of mass demonstrations

October 17: Government announces a 20 cents-per-day fee for internet calls, including Facebook and WhatsApp. It also proposes to raise VAT to 15 per cent by 2022. Thousands protest, accusing leaders of corruption and mishandling the economy.

October 18: Government abandons proposals. Protests continue. Prime Minister Saad Hariri gives partners in coalition government 72 hours to come up with solutions.

October 21: Cabinet meets and agrees to a package of ambitious economic fixes and infrastructure work including a $3.4 billion reduction in a state budget with no new taxes. Protests continue.

October 19-29: Protests swell in size and geography from small villages in Mount Lebanon to Tripoli to the south.

October 23: President Michel Aoun addresses the nation for the first time in a short video message.

October 27: Tens of thousands take part in a human chain that organizers say managed to link north Lebanon to the south

October 29: Mr Hariri announces resignation against the wishes of Hezbollah, collapsing government and triggering a political crisis to accompany the economic crisis. Calls for the speedy formation of a new administration. On the same day, black-clad Hezbollah and Amal supporters attack demonstrators in Beirut, tearing down and setting alight to a protest encampment.

October 31: President Aoun makes a second national address, touches on the economic crisis and fighting corruption.

November 1: Banks across the country that have been shut since the protests begin to reopen. Unofficial capital controls are brought in to prevent a run with strict withdrawal limits in place.

November 17: Independent candidate Melhem Khalaf beats candidates backed by traditional parties in the Beirut Bar Association, backs the protesters and highlights the fight for judicial independence.

November 19: Parliament set to hold a two-day legislative session. Opposed by protesters who block MPs leading to cancellation.

November 21: President Aoun gives speech ahead of independence day and calls for end of protests as he vows an anti-corruption cabinet.

November 25: Tensions rise after Hussein Chalhoub and his sister-in-law Sanaa Al Jundi die in a car accident when their vehicle hits debris on the road near a makeshift roadblock. Hezbollah and Amal supporters attack protesters.

December 3: Protesters take to the streets after reports businessman Samir Khatib will be nominated the new prime minister.

December 8: After sustained protests at his apparent appointment, Mr Khatib withdraws himself as a candidate.

December 18: Mr Hariri rules himself out as the next prime minister, calls on Mr Aoun to designate a new premiere soon.

December 19: Parliamentary consultations take place and Hassan Diab, a professor at the American University of Beirut, is nominated to be the next prime minister. Mr Hariri and many parties aligned with his Future Movement abstain on the vote.

December 20-31: Protests against Mr Diab’s nomination continue.

January 14: After weeks of relative calm, protests reignite with roads around Beirut, the north the south and the Bekaa Valley closed by protesters burning tires. The focus of anger now directed at banks that are attacked and vandalized. Clashes take place in Hamra leading to dozens of arrests.

January 16: A tentative list of ministers proposed by Mr Diab to form an 18 member cabinet leaks indicating the imminent formation of a new government. After last-minute consultations between parties, no cabinet is formed although no reasons were given for the delay.

January 18: In the most violent night of clashes between protests and the police, nearly 400 are wounded and 34 arrested as police use batons, water cannon, rubber bullets and teargas to disperse hundreds of protesters around Parliament.

January 21: Lebanon’s new Prime Minister forms a government. The 60-year-old former engineering professor faces a tough challenge in addressing Lebanon's worst economic crisis since the end of the country's 1975 to 1990 civil war. Protesters quickly take to the streets to reject his "one colour government" as a continuation of the corrupt political elite that caused Lebanon's crisis.

January 22: Protesters attack barriers outside the Lebanese Parliament and throw rocks at riot police. Despite assurance that the new government would be comprised of independent technocrats, most of Lebanon’s new cabinet ministers have been picked by parties that back Mr Diab, including Hezbollah.

January 25: Marking 100 days of anti-government demonstrations, crowds gather outside Beirut's central government building and march through the city. What began as protests against corruption and economic stagnation have amplified into demands for an overhaul of the country's entire political system.

January 26: The Lebanese Parliament passes the country's 2020 budget, prompting more clashes in downtown Beirut as riot police use rubber bullets and tear gas to push protesters back.

February 1: US President Donald Trump's Middle East Peace Plan draws a small crowd of protesters outside the US Embassy in Beirut as wider demonstrations against the government die down. Despite widespread rejection of the new cabinet, there is a grudging acceptance that they are given time to respond to demands.

February 5: While numbers of protesters dwindle, thousands still turn out on the largest days. But as the new government starts getting to work ahead of a confidence vote to formalise their roles, protesters reflect on the last few months and look at where the movement can go.

February 6: Lebanon's new government highlights plans to confront tax evasion and approves a policy paper to tackle the country's deepening financial crisis.

February 11: Mass protests take place in central Beirut as MPs gather for a confidence vote for the new administration, the final hurdle to formally take office. Dozens are wounded and tear gas wafts through the air before 9am.

Updated: February 11, 2020 05:11 PM

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