- Lebanon’s government resigns in wake of outrageous public anger.
- Less than a week after the disastrous Beirut explosion, Prime Minister Hassan Diab announced his resignation on Monday.
- Mr. Diab stated that the country’s corruption was “bigger than the state.”
Less than a week after the massive explosion that took place in Beirut, Lebanon’s government resigned on Monday in wake of violent public anger. The Beirut blast resulted in more than 170 people being killed and more than 6000 injured.
Prime Minister Hassan Diab addressed the nation on Monday, announcing his resignation and that of the government, by coming to the conclusion that corruption in the country is “bigger than the state.” He also called the catastrophic blast a “disaster beyond measure.”
Mr Diab, who was appointed prime minister in January after months of deadlock, said his government had “gone to great lengths to lay out a road map to save the country.”
“We have fought valiantly and with dignity,” he said, referring to members of his cabinet. “Between us and change is big powerful barrier.”
“A very thick and thorny wall separates us from change; a wall fortified by a class that is resorting to all dirty methods in order to resist and preserve its gains”, he further said.
Mr. Diab also added that he was taking “a step back” so he could stand with the people “and fight the battle for change alongside them”.
Along with the Prime Minister himself, three cabinet ministers and seven Parliament members quit.
On Monday, violent protests erupted in the capital, following the government’s resignation. Dozens of protesters hurled stones, fireworks and Molotov cocktails at security forces who responded with several rounds of tear gas. Some demonstrators tried to scale the blast walls outside Parliament Square.
Lebanon was already suffering its worst economic downturn, coupled with the coronavirus pandemic and the government being flagged with corruption. Hundreds of families were pushed to poverty.
The Beirut blast can be extremely costly for the country, as officials estimate that the explosion caused more than $3bn (£2.3bn) of damage and that Lebanon’s collective economic losses may amount to $15bn.
President Michel Aoun has accepted the resignation. He asked the government to stay on caretaker capacity until a new cabinet was formed.
It is unlikely to be a smooth or quick process due to the country’s complex political system. Power in Lebanon is shared between leaders representing the country’s different religious groups.
Additionally, following the end of the 1975-1990 civil war a number of warlords entered politics and still control large parts of the country’s political, economic and social sectors.
Many protesters blame this entrenched system for the country’s corruption.
The majority of people in the country have been subject to stringent and arbitrary cash withdrawal limits for nearly a year. Meanwhile, billions of US dollars are widely believed to have been withdrawn from Lebanon by the country’s economic elite, further depleting foreign currency reserves.
Diab’s ministers had repeatedly accused the ruling class of disrupting their plans for reform.
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres called for a “credible and transparent” investigation into the explosion. Guterres also asked for the donors to give “speedily and generously” to help with fast recovery of the destruction eft by the Beirut explosion.
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