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Beirut Explosion: Lebanese Government Resigns under Pressure from Protests


Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab and his cabinet resigned Monday under pressure from protests that have sought to overturn the country’s political leadership following last week’s deadly explosion that devastated large parts of central Beirut.

The massive blast was caused by the detonation of 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored unsafely at the port for years.

In a brief televised speech, Mr Diab said 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."

He repeated the last phrase three times.

Beirut protest
Beirut protests

Mr Diab also said "we are with the people in calling for trying those responsible for this crime" as he spoke on Monday evening.

Demonstrators had demanded political change after an explosion in Beirut killed more than 160 people and injured around 6,000 last week.

Lebanon's health minister Hamad Hassan had earlier confirmed the government had resigned when he spoke to reporters after a cabinet meeting on Monday.

Beirut protest
Anti Government Protest in Lebanon


United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres called for a "credible and transparent" investigation into the explosion.

Discontent in Lebanon has been brewing for years. In late 2019, a plan to tax Whatsapp calls spilled over into mass protests against economic turmoil and corruption, which eventually led to the government's resignation.

Coronavirus had curbed the protests, but the financial situation has continued to worsen and last Tuesday's explosion was seen by many as the deadly result of years of corruption and mismanagement.

Beirut protest
Beirut protests

The government's plans to investigate were not enough for many who have lost all faith in the political elite. Before the cabinet's resignation, a number of ministers had already offered to step down.

But the end of this government does not necessarily mean an end to the anger. Last year's protests led to the formation of the government which has now been forced to step down over the same accusations of corruption.

French President Emmanuel Macron hosted an international donors' conference on Sunday. US President Donald Trump and 15 other heads of state were present, pledging approximately $300 million in aid to Lebanon.

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