Lebanese government resigns amid protests over Beirut blast



Lebanon’s Prime Minister Hassan Diab and his cabinet resigned on Monday evening, almost a week after a massive explosion devastated the capital and stirred anti-government demonstrations.

“We will back down and stand with the people. We need to open the door for the people,” Diab said in a televised address to the nation before presenting his resignation to Lebanese President Michel Aoun.

Earlier in the day, the country’s Health Minister, Hamad Hasan had notified reporters about the government’s impending resignation, while the Justice Minister Marie Claude Najm, Information Minister Manal Abdel Samad, and Environment Minister Damianos Kattar, had already stepped down.

Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets of Beirut on Saturday, asking for accountability, after a massive explosion rocked the capital’s port on Tuesday, leaving over 200 people dead, thousands injured and dozens still missing, whilst causing extensive damage to the capital.

Both the Lebanese PM and President said the explosion was caused by the detonation of 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate that had been stored for six years without safety measures.

Amid growing pressure from protesters seeking political reforms, the Lebanese PM had vowed to hold early elections, however, Diab’s announcement was not enough to satisfy the protesters who accused the government of negligence and corruption.

On Sunday, videos circulating on the web showed protesters clashing with police forces and facing tear gas, rubber bullets, and birdshot fired from shotguns.

The same day, international donors pledged $300 million in humanitarian assistance for Lebanon, during a donor conference organised by French President Emmanuel Macron and the United Nations.

The emergency aid will be “directly delivered to the Lebanese population,” and the country, which is on the verge of bankruptcy, will need to commit to economic and political reforms.




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