Lebanese PM Hassan Diab has officially announced the resignation of his entire government following days of protests sparked by the catastrophic explosion which levelled parts of Beirut last week.
Earlier, Health Minister Hamad Hassan confirmed to reporters that the resignation would be imminent.
Addressing the nation on Monday evening, Diab said he was with the people calling for responsibility for the “crime.” Diab said the explosion was the result of endemic corruption.
I thought I could remedy this [corruption], but it is larger than the state and systemic…Therefore I announce the resignation of this government
He said government ministers gave the job “their all” because they care about the country. He also accused his political opponents of using the disaster “to score political points” and to “destroy what’s left of the state.”
Diab formally submitted his resignation to President Michel Aoun about an hour after his speech. Aoun accepted the resignation and asked the government to remain in caretaker capacity until a new one can be formed.
The resignation comes as demonstrators take to the streets of Beirut for the third night in a row demanding swift change and accountability for the blast which devastated vast swathes of the port city last Tuesday.
On Sunday night, protesters tore down barricades near the parliament building, hurling projectiles and lighting fires. Security forces responded with tear gas and rubber bullets. The night before, protesters managed to breach the Ministry of Foreign Affairs headquarters and other government buildings. Protests continued on Monday evening as Diab made his announcement, with clashes between demonstrators and riot police.
Diab had previously called for early parliamentary elections and several ministers already tendered their resignations — but as protests grew in intensity over the weekend, it became clear that the government would need to take immediate action to quell public anger.
The blast which killed at least 160 and injured thousands more was sparked when a stash of ammonium nitrate at Beirut port ignited. The public has directed blame at the government for allowing the chemical to be stored without oversight at the port for years.
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