Lebanon’s government resigns as public anger mounts

Lebanon's government resigns as public anger mounts
Lebanon's government resigns as public anger grows. Source: Reuters
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Daily US Times: Lebanon’s government has resigned amid mounting anger and pressure over the explosion on Tuesday that devastated parts of capital Beirut and left more than 200 people dead.

Prime Minister Hassan Diab, who was appointed prime minister in January after months of deadlock, announced the resignation in a national TV address on Monday evening.

Many people have accused Lebanon’s government and the country’s leaders of culpability through their alleged corruption and negligence.

Protesters have taken to the streets and clashed with police for a third straight day.

The leaving Prime Minister said the massive blast was caused by the detonation of 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored unsafely at the port for years.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun has asked the government to stay on in a caretaker capacity until a new cabinet is formed.

What did the prime minister say?

Mr Diab said his government had “gone to great lengths to lay out a road map to save the country”.

He said: ”But corruption in Lebanon was “bigger than the state” itself, and “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.”

The Prime Minister said: “They knew that we pose a threat to them and that the success of this government means a real change in this long-ruling class whose corruption has asphyxiated the country.”

“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 added.

What happens next?

The Lebanese parliament will now have to decide on a new prime minister – a process involving the same sectarian politics at the root of protesters’ discontent.

It is unlikely to be a quick or smooth process due to the country’s complex political system. Power in the country 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, social and economic sectors.

Protesters blame this entrenched system for Lebanon’s corruption.

Police clashed with angry residents on Monday as protests continued in the capital following the government’s resignation.

Footage showed angry protesters gathering near barriers leading to the parliament building as security forces fired tear gas at them.

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