Lebanon’s prime minister resigned from his post-Monday in the midst of outrage and public anger over the port explosion in Beirut last week that killed at least 160 people and wounded thousands. The cabinet of Prime Minister Hassan Diab has also resigned, possibly escalating the instability in Lebanon amid increasing anti-government sentiment and calling for democratic change.
The resignations come after a weekend of anti-government demonstrations in the port of Beirut over the Aug. 4 explosion that caused an estimated $10 billion to $15 billion in damage and left almost 300,000 homeless. The Lebanese people blame the devastating tragedy on corruption and negligence. Officials assume that the port explosion was caused by a fire which ignited an ammonium nitrate stockpile of 2,750 tonnes. Since 2013, the material was stored at the port, with few protections despite multiple reports it posed a threat.
Before the resignation of Monday, the government of Hassan Diab referred the matter to the Supreme Judicial Council, which handles crimes relating to national and state security of Lebanon. The inquiry focuses on how the ammonium nitrate handles the port and why nothing is about it. State security officials had compiled a report on the risks of storing the material at the port, and on July 20 sent a copy to the president and prime minister ‘s offices.
After the blast, nearly 20 people arrest, including the director of the customs department of Lebanon and its predecessor and the port director. According to government officials, scores of individuals questions, including two former Cabinet ministers. For months before the port explosion – Lebanon engulfs by mass protests over claims of corruption, incompetence and mismanagement. Diab ‘s administration, backs by Hezbollah and his allies, may have been doomed from the outset. It is as it navigated vested political influence with common reform demands.
Diab came into power after his predecessor, Saad Hariri, stepped down in response to the protests in October. It took months of bickering among the leadership factions until they decided on Diab. He is a former professor at Beirut’s American University. Now the process has to begin again, with Diab ‘s government playing a caretaker role. It is while the same competing factions are battling for power. The ruling oligarchy has held power for so long – since the end of the civil war in 1990. It is seeking an unknown political figure to lead the country can be hard. Najjar said he had heard of the presence of ammonium nitrate 24 hours before the blast at the port.
On Sunday, world leaders and international organizations pledged nearly $300 million in humanitarian emergency aid to Beirut. But warns that no money makes available to rebuild the capital. It is until Lebanese authorities agree to the people’s demand for political and economic reforms.