SWITZERLAND, AUGUST 11 – Lebanon’s Prime Minister Hassan Diab and his cabinet have resigned in the wake of the devastating Beirut explosion, which killed more than 160 people.
Diab told the nation in a televised address on Monday that he was heeding the people’s demands to hold accountable those responsible for the disaster.
The prime minister blamed a “corrupt’ political class that has ruled Lebanon for more than 30 years for the August 4 explosion.
“This is why today, I announce the resignation of the government,” Diab said.
Several ministers had earlier quit the cabinet amid fury over the blast and the Hezbollah-backed President Michel Aoun – who has rejected calls for an international probe into the disaster – is also facing calls to quit.
The resignations did not force Aoun to step down but they will cause a legislative paralysis in Lebanon’s French-inspired system.
Last Tuesday’s disaster – caused by more than 2,000 tonnes of highly explosive ammonium nitrate, which were piled up in a warehouse – killed at least 163 people and destroyed swathes of the Mediterranean capital, leaving hundreds of thousands homeless.
Many, in Lebanon, see the blast as a symbol of corruption and incompetence among the country’s elite, and protests have broken out with tear gas fired on protesters after months of political and economic meltdown.
Much of the fury directed at the political elite, backed by Hezbollah and Iran, which has called for outsiders to refrain from ‘politicising’ the disaster.