Three-day straight protest force Lebanon government to resign
Lebanon’s government has resigned amid mounting anger over the explosion on Tuesday that devastated parts of Beirut and left more than 200 people dead.
The announcement was made in a national TV address by Prime Minister Hassan Diab on Monday evening.
Many people have accused the country’s leaders of culpability through their alleged negligence and corruption.
Protesters have taken to the streets and clashed with police for a third straight day.
The massive blast was caused by the detonation of 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored unsafely at the port for years.
President Michel Aoun has asked the government to stay on in a caretaker capacity until a new cabinet is formed.
The prime minister presented himself in the speech as a reforming leader blocked by endemic corruption dating back years, BBC Middle East correspondent Tom Bateman says.
Parliament will now have to decide on a new prime minister – a process involving the same sectarian politics at the root of protesters’ discontent, our correspondent adds.
It is unlikely to be a smooth or quick process due to the country’s complex political system. Power in Lebanon is shared between leaders representing the country’s different religious groups.
Additionally, following the end of the 1975-1990 civil war a number of warlords entered politics and still control large parts of the country’s political, economic and social sectors.
Many protesters blame this entrenched system for the country’s corruption.
On Monday police clashed with angry residents as protests continued in the capital following the government’s resignation.
Footage showed protesters gathering near barriers leading to the parliament building as security forces fired tear gas at them.
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.
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.