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Lebanon's PM Hassan Diab resigns amid public outrage over Beirut blast

Diab in a brief televised speech said that he is stepping down so that he can stand with the people "and fight the battle for change alongside them".

Aug 11, 2020 15:24 IST
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Lebanon's Prime Minister Hassan Diab announced the resignation of his government on August 10, 2020 amid public outrage over the devastating explosion in Beirut, which caused massive destruction and led to the loss of many lives. 

Diab in a brief televised speech said that he is stepping down so that he can stand with the people and fight the battle for change alongside them. He stated that the huge explosion that devastated Beirut and triggered public outrage was the result of endemic corruption.
 
The Prime Minister's resignation follows a weekend of anti-government protests over the massive explosion that rocked Lebanon’s capital city Beirut on August 4, causing widespread destruction. The blast killed more than 160 people and injured about 6000. 

Key Highlights 

The Lebanese PM had formed his government in January this year after his predecessor, Saad Hariri, stepped down in October 2019 in response to the demonstrations. Months of political turmoil finally ended with Diab taking the reins of the government. 

However, Diab resigned on August 10 saying that his government will 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.

Hassan Diab said that the disaster was a result of endemic corruption and said that those responsible should be ashamed because their actions had led to a catastrophe “beyond description”.

He also blamed the political elite in the nation for preventing change, saying his government faced a brick wall on reforms.

Lebanon's President Michel Aoun has accepted the resignation of the Diab government but has asked it to stay as a caretaker government until a new cabinet is formed.

Impact 

While the decision of Lebanon's Prime Minister to step down is an attempt to respond to public anger over the blast, it may also plunge Lebanon into a deeper turmoil, as forming a government amid factional rifts has been a daunting task in the past and with the growing discontent among the public for the ruling elite, it may become difficult to find a candidate willing to the new Prime Minister. 

Diab’s government had also been formed almost two months after former premier Saad Hariri stepped down in October 2019 amid anti-government protests over perceived corruption and mismanagement.

The move may also hamper already-stalled talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on a financial rescue plan.

Beirut Blast

A huge explosion took place at a port warehouse in Beirut on August 4, destroying large parts of the city, killing at least 163 people and injuring over 6000 people. The explosion was reportedly caused by 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, which was stored at the warehouse. The highly explosive material was stored unsafely at the port for years. 

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