Lebanon’s prime minister has stepped down from his job in the wake of the Beirut port explosion last week that has triggered public fury and mass violent protests.
In a brief televised speech, Prime Minister Hassan Diab said on Monday that he is taking “a step back” so he can stand with the people “and fight the battle for change alongside them.” He said: “I declare today the resignation of this government. May God protect Lebanon,” repeating the last phrase three times.
The Prime Minister went on to blame 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,’ he said.
Several ministers had earlier quit the cabinet amid fury over the blast and now 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 do not actually force Aoun to step down but they will cause a legislative paralysis in Lebanon’s French-inspired system.
The massive blast on Aug. 4 which decimated Beirut port and devastated large parts of the city has brought a new wave of public outrage at the government and Lebanon’s long-entrenched ruling class. Protests were planned outside the government headquarters to coincide with the Cabinet meeting after large demonstrations over the weekend that saw clashes with security forces firing tear gas at protesters.