Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab has today, Monday 10th August, announced the resignation of his government amid fury within and outside his government. This comes nearly a week after a devastating explosion in Beirut, the capital that stirred public outrage and spurred a string of ministers to step down.
Diab announced the resignation of the entire cabinet in a televised evening address to the nation, characterizing the detonation of highly explosive material warehoused at the capital’s port for the past seven years as being “the result of endemic corruption.”
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. “In the face of this reality.. I am announcing today the resignation of this government.
The deadly explosion of the port warehouse on 4th August saw the detonation of more than 2,000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate. It has killed over 200 people, injured more than 6,000, and destroyed a swathe of the Mediterranean city, compounding months of political and economic turmoil.
The cabinet, formed in January with the backing of the powerful Iranian-backed Hezbollah group and its allies, met on Monday, with many ministers saying they wanted to resign, according to ministerial and political sources.
The information and environment ministers had quit on Sunday, as well as several lawmakers. Justice Minister Marie-Claude Najm resigned Monday before the meeting.
Before the resignations, the cabinet decided to refer the investigation of the blast to the judicial council, the highest legal authority whose rulings cannot be appealed, a ministerial source and state news agency NNA said. The council usually handles top security cases.
For many ordinary Lebanese, the explosion was the last straw in a protracted crisis over the collapse of the economy, endemic corruption, waste and dysfunctional governance, and they have taken to the streets demanding root-and-branch change.
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.
“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.”