Health

Lebanon’s govt on brink as ministers quit, public anger mounts in blasts fall out

Issued on: 10/08/2020 – 15:01

Lebanon's Prime Minister Hassan Diab is set to announce his government's resignation, the countrys health minister said Monday after a massive port explosion that devastated the capital piled pressure on the cabinet.

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Diab would soon announce the resignation of the entire cabinet, Lebanons Health Minister Hamad Hasan told reporters in the capital, Beirut.

The Lebanese prime minister was set to deliver an address to the nation at 7.30pm local time, his office said.

Diabs government has faced rising pressure after last weeks devastating blast that has stirred angry anti-government protests and resignations of several ministers, with the justice minister the latest to go and the finance minister set to quit.

The August 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.

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.

"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 Michel Aoun 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.

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.

Fed up with corruption

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.

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 wRead More – Source