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Beirut blast: Lebanese govt steps down

11 Aug 2020 16:10, Somoy English Desk
Beirut blast: Lebanese govt steps down
Beirut blast: Lebanese govt steps down

The Lebanon's government resigned on Monday night, less than a week after a massive explosion in Beirut killed over 160 people and sparked days of violent protests.

Prime Minister Hassan Diab addressed the nation, announcing his resignation and that of his government in the wake of the blast, which he called a "disaster beyond measure."

In an impassioned speech, Diab berated Lebanon's ruling political elite for fostering what he called "an apparatus of corruption bigger than the state."

"We have fought valiantly and with dignity," he said, referring to members of his cabinet. "Between us and change is big powerful barrier."

Diab compared Tuesday's explosion to an "earthquake that rocked the country" prompting his government to resign. "We have decided to stand with the people," he said.

Three cabinet ministers had already quit, along with seven members of parliament, reports CNN.

Violent protests erupted outside the prime minister's office in the run-up to the scheduled speech on Monday evening.

Dozens of protesters hurled stones, fireworks and Molotov cocktails at security forces who responded with several rounds of tear gas. Some demonstrators tried to scale the blast walls outside Parliament Square.

Lebanon was already suffering through its worst economic crisis in decades, coupled with rising coronavirus rates, and the government has been plagued by accusations of corruption and gross mismanagement.

Tuesday's blast, which damaged or destroyed much of the Lebanese capital and was linked to a long-neglected stash of potentially explosive chemicals, was the last straw for many Beirut residents.

Diab, a self-styled reformer, was ushered into powerlast December, two months after a popular uprising brought down the previous government. His government is composed of technocrats and had been supported by major political parties, including the Iran-backed political and militant group Hezbollah.

Now the country will be tasked with finding its third prime minister in less than a year, to contend with the spiraling crises Lebanon faces on a number of fronts.

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