20:20 GMT +313 November 2019
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    Demonstrators run as they hold tires during a protest over deteriorating economic situation, in Dora, Lebanon October 18, 2019

    Lebanese Prime Minister Cancels Cabinet Meeting on Friday Amid Mass Protests – Reports

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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri cancelled the cabinet meeting that was scheduled for Friday afternoon in the city of Baabda in wake of mass protests, Lebanon's Al Manar news channel reported, citing the Council of Ministers.

    Earlier in the day, Lebanese Telecommunications Minister Mohammad Choucair announced that a decision to impose taxes on online calls via WhatsApp and similar mobile applications would be reversed in the wake of mass protests against the measure.

    On Thursday, the government approved imposing a $6 monthly tax on online calls via mobile applications in a bid to raise additional funds for its debt-ridden budget. Moreover, the authorities introduced a new tax on tobacco and announced plans to increase the value-added tax (VAT) to 15 percent by 2020. 

    The measures sparked mass protests in Beirut and other cities. According to media reports, protesters blocked off the Beirut-Damascus international highway. 

    Lebanon has recently been rocked by anti-government protests amid a severe deterioration of the economic situation in the country. On Sunday, during a rally in central Beirut, demonstrators called for the resignation of the government, holding economic reforms and taking action to cope with corruption.

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    WhatsApp, protests, Saad Hariri, Lebanon
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