Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab has announced the resignation of his government, saying last week’s deadly blast that destroyed large parts of Beirut was the result of endemic corruption.
On August 4, an explosion, triggered by some 2,700 tonnes of ammonium nitrate at a port warehouse in the capital city, killed nearly 200 people and injured more than 6,000 others.
“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,” Mr. Diab said in a speech announcing the resignation on Monday night.
PM Diab said corruption did not stop at Beirut port but was “spread throughout the country’s political and administrative landscape” under the protection of a “class controlling the fate” of the country.
President Michel Aoun later asked Mr. Diab’s government to stay on in a caretaker capacity until a new cabinet is formed.
But in a speech urging the swift formation of a new government, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said people’s hopes for reform and governance needed to be heard. Lebanon, a former colony of France, has been a major recipient of financial aid from Paris.
Ahead of Monday’s resignations, demonstrations broke out for a third day in central Beirut, with some protesters hurling rocks at security forces guarding an entrance leading to parliament.
Analysts say the resignations have plunged Lebanese politics deeper into turmoil and may further hamper already-stalled talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on a financial rescue plan.
The talks, launched in May, were put on hold due to inaction on reforms and a row between the government, banks and politicians over the scale of vast financial losses.