חסאן דיאב
Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab
Photo: EPA
Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab

Lebanon PM said set to resign as anger grows over Beirut blast

Information, environment, justice ministers have already quit, as sources say cabinet set to meet with many more wanting to offer resignation; irate Lebanese want entire government to step down

Ynet, Reuters |
Published: 08.10.20 , 14:08
Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab has informed President Michel Aoun of his intention to resign shortly, local media outlets reported Monday.
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  • The country's cabinet faced mounting pressure to step down after a massive explosion that has ignited anti-government protests and resignations by several ministers, with the justice minister the latest to go.
    חסאן דיאבחסאן דיאב
    Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab
    (Photo: EPA)
    The Aug. 4 port warehouse detonation of more than 2,000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate killed 158 people, injured more than 6,000 and destroyed a swathe of the Mediterranean city, compounding months of political and economic meltdown and prompting furious calls for the entire government to resign.
    הריסות  פיצוץ נמל ביירות לבנוןהריסות  פיצוץ נמל ביירות לבנון
    Devastation caused by the Beirut port explosion
    (Photo: AFP)
    The cabinet, formed in January with the backing of the powerful Iranian-backed Hezbollah group and its allies, was due to meet on Monday, with many ministers wanting to resign, ministerial and political sources said.
    The information and environment ministers quit on Sunday as well as several lawmakers. The justice minister resigned on Monday, citing the catastrophic explosion.
    לבנון ביירות חיפוש נעדרים אסון פיצוץ נמללבנון ביירות חיפוש נעדרים אסון פיצוץ נמל
    Rescue personnel examine the devastation caused by the Beirut port explosion
    (Photo: Reuters)
    "The entire regime needs to change. It will make no difference if there is a new government," Joe Haddad, an engineer, told Reuters. "We need quick elections."
    Diab said on Saturday he would request early parliamentary elections.
    Lebanon's president had previously said explosive material was stored unsafely for years at the port. He later said the investigation would consider whether the cause was external interference as well as negligence or an accident.
    לבנון ביירות אסון פיצוץ נמל מפגינים פרצו ל משרד החוץ תמונה מתוך המשרדלבנון ביירות אסון פיצוץ נמל מפגינים פרצו ל משרד החוץ תמונה מתוך המשרד
    A Lebanese anti-government protester holds up the national flag after entering the country's Foreign Ministry in Beirut
    (Photo: EPA)
    Beirut's governor said many foreign workers and truck drivers remained missing and were assumed to be among the casualties, complicating efforts to identify the victims.

    Corruption, mismanagement

    Anti-government protests in the last two days have been the biggest since October when demonstrators took to the streets over an economic crisis rooted in endemic corruption, waste and mismanagement. Protesters accused the political elite of exploiting state resources for their own benefit.
    לבנון ביירות אסון פיצוץ נמל הפגנה נגד המנהיגיםלבנון ביירות אסון פיצוץ נמל הפגנה נגד המנהיגים
    Protesters hold signs against Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah in Beirut
    (Photo: EPA)
    Eli Abi Hanna's house and his car repair shop were destroyed in the blast.
    "The economy was already a disaster and now I have no way of making money again," he said. "It was easier to make money during the civil war. The politicians and the economic disaster have ruined everything."
    Some Lebanese doubt change is possible in a country where sectarian politicians have dominated since the 1975-90 conflict.
    "It won't work, it's just the same people. It's a mafia," said Antoinette Baaklini, an employee of an electricity company that was demolished in the blast.
    הריסות  פיצוץ נמל ביירות לבנוןהריסות  פיצוץ נמל ביירות לבנון
    Devastation caused by the Beirut port explosion
    (Photo: AFP)
    Workers picked up fallen masonry near the building where wall graffiti mocked Lebanon's chronic electricity crisis: "Everyone else in the world has electricity while we have a donkey."
    "It will always be the same. It is just a political game, nothing will change," said university student Marilyne Kassis.
    An emergency international donor conference on Sunday raised pledges worth nearly 253 million euros ($298 million) for immediate humanitarian relief.
    But foreign countries demand transparency over how the aid is used, wary of writing blank checks to a government perceived by its own people as deeply corrupt.
    Some are concerned about the influence of Shi'ite terror group Hezbollah, which receives funding from Iran.
    נשיא צרפת עמנואל מקרון ביירות עם תושבים אחרי אסון ה פיצוץ ב נמלנשיא צרפת עמנואל מקרון ביירות עם תושבים אחרי אסון ה פיצוץ ב נמל
    French President Emmanuel Macron surveying the damage in Beirut in person last week
    (Photo: AFP)
    Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi told a televised news conference on Monday that countries should refrain from politicizing the Beirut port blast. He called on the United States to lift sanctions against Lebanon.
    Lebanese, meanwhile, are struggling to come to terms with the scale of losses. Entire neighborhoods were destroyed.
    "It is very sad. We are burying people every day. Forty percent of my church have lost their businesses," said a priest.

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