LebanonMiddle East

Lebanon’s PM Diab announces government’s resignation amid popular outrage over Beirut blast

Lebanon’s Prime Minister Hassan Diab has announced resignation of his government following a similar move by several ministers, and amid angry protests in the country that followed the devastating blast of August 4 in the Beirut port.

Speaking to people in a live televised address on Monday, Diab first blamed the explosion on mismanagement resulting from “endemic corruption” in the country.

“Today we follow the will of the people in their demand to hold accountable those responsible for the disaster that has been in hiding for seven years, and their desire for real change,” he said, adding, “In the face of this reality … I am announcing today the resignation of this government.”

“May God save Lebanon, may God save Lebanon, may God save Lebanon.”

Elsewhere in his remarks, Diab slammed certain corrupt political actors for undermining his government’s efforts by distorting truth.

He said his government “tried to create change to meet demands of the Lebanese people, adding, “we are with the people in calling for trying those responsible for this crime.” 

Diab also denounced those who are trying to take advantage of the Beirut blast for their own political gain.

According to a televised announcement later on Monday, Lebanese President Michel Aoun has accepted the resignation of the prime minister’s government, asking it to stay on in a caretaker capacity until a new cabinet is formed.

After months of a power vacuum in the small Mediterranean country, Diab’s cabinet formed in January to combat alleged corruption and mismanagement, and to revive Lebanon’s collapsed economy.

Before Diab announced the government’s resignation, four cabinet ministers had already quit their posts. 

The catastrophic explosion, the biggest ever to hit the Middle East, killed at least 158 people. Some 6,000 were injured.

Dozens of people are still missing, and at least 300,000 people have been displaced as a result of the colossal blast, which leveled the whole port and a large section of central Beirut and turned successive apartment blocks into masses of debris and twisted metal.

A large supply of confiscated explosive material that had been stored in a warehouse at the city’s port for the past six years is suspected to have caused the massive explosion, whose mushroom-shaped cloud has drawn comparisons with the US atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki 75 years ago.

Thousands demonstrated across the capital on Saturday and Sunday, accusing authorities of incompetence as they occupied many ministries and tried to break into the parliament. Televised footage showed a fire breaking out at the entrances to the parliament square in central Beirut.

Protesters demand root-and-branch change in a political system which is suspected of being ‘inept,’ ‘corrupt’ and ‘dominated by sectarian interests and family dynasties.’

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