Six days after the explosion in the port of Beirut that killed at least 160 people, the fragile Lebanese government fell amid repeated violent street protests demanding the resignation of all leaders in the country.
On a day when three ministers – those of Justice, Finance and Youth – advanced the fate of all cabinet members presenting their resignation, Lebanese Prime Minister Hasan Diab announced what everyone expected
“We are taking a step back to be with the people, to fight with them for change. That is why I announce today the resignation of this Government ”, said Diab in a message to the nation in which he spoke of the fight against the corrupt and the need for a national salvation executive.
A DIMISSION BETWEEN PROTESTS
The announcement was made amid protests for the third consecutive day around Parliament and Plaza de los Mártires, the nucleus of the revolution that began on October 17, which was again filled with tear gas and fireworks.
“He resigned, he resigned!” Shouted Rasha, 27, amid timid celebratory gestures, as a hundred protesters clashed with security forces.
“What happened now should have happened before. The explosion killed people and that is why they resign, but it is not enough (…) The whole system must change, from the president to the deputies ”, Rasha told Efe, as he runs away from the center of the disturbances .
Today’s accidents have caused 45 injuries so far, of which seven have been taken to the hospital, the Lebanese Red Cross reported.
CORRUPTION, GREATER THAN THE STATE
In a speech full of allusions to the corrupt system and those who take advantage of it – a common mention that never comes with specific names or complaints – Diab guaranteed that the problem is bigger than the State itself.
“The mechanisms of corruption are bigger than the state” in Lebanon, said Diab, whose cabinet was formed in December 2019, in response to the wave of protests that broke out in the country on October 17 against the sectarian system, a regime born out of the war that ended in 1990 and brought the country to the brink.
“Some did not read the Lebanese revolution of 17 well, it was against them, but they did not understand,” he always added without naming names.
He blamed the “political class” for the Beirut catastrophe that “struggles with all dirty means” and stressed that his technocratic government did “everything it could to save the country”, but there is a “great barrier” to change.
“They should be ashamed of themselves because their corruption has lasted seven years,” he said, adding that the port tragedy has been forged since then.
WORKING WITH THE GOVERNMENT
After announcing his decision, Diab met with the country’s president, Michel Aoun, at the presidential palace to officially inform him of the decision.
Aoun accepted the government’s resignation, but asked him to remain in office until the formation of a new Executive.
“President Aoun thanked Diab and the ministers and asked them to continue carrying out their duties until a new government is formed,” said the Lebanese Presidency in its official Twitter social account.
The explosion of almost 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrate that had been stored in the port since 2014 without proper care, as Diab admitted on the day of the events, generated a domino effect, while the death toll continues to rise.
The Ministry of Health today raised the number of deaths to 160 and pointed out that there are “less than twenty” missing, although the search for bodies under the rubble continues after the catastrophe, which also caused more than 6,000 injuries.
The Lebanese Army announced in a brief statement that Lebanese military rescue teams, along with search groups from France and Russia, had recovered five bodies.
Isaac J. Martin