LEBANON’s prime minister announced that his government has stepped down from their roles after weekend-long protests by the public due to the Beirut explosion last week.
In a national address to the public on August 10, Hassan Diab, now-former prime minister of Lebanon, said that the government has resigned to support people who want “real change.”
“The disaster is the result of chronic corruption. the corruption network is bigger than the state,” he said.
He added that those who have caused massive corruption in the country should be ashamed as the Beirut explosion is a result of their dishonesty which was kept under overs seven years.
“Today we are heeding people’s demand for real change. Today we will take a step back in order to stand with the people. I declare today the resignation of this government. May God protect Lebanon, may God protect Lebanon, may God protect Lebanon,” naharnet reported.
Despite the surrender, Diab might still have to perform a caretaker role and keep ministers in offices, ensuring Lebanon continues to function until they find a new primer minister. However, they will only take key decisions and meet occasionally. President Michel Aoun will be setting a date after political consultation in order to find a new prime minister, The National reported.
According to Lebanese law, if more than one-third of the cabinet’s 20 members quit their jobs the government would be automatically dissolved. But Beirut state TV announced that the Hassan Diab government is going to resign in the next few hours, leaving the country to now find its new prime minister. Several ministers along with members of the parliament have already submitted resignations, CNN reported.
The move comes after the August 04 explosion at Beirut’s port, less than a week ago and the all-time high outrage of the public, who took to the streets and demanded that Prime Minister Hassan Diab resigns. The tragedy, caused by an explosion of chemicals stored at the city’s main port, killed more than 150 people, injured 6,000 and left some 300,000 homeless, igniting fury among Lebanese who blamed politicians for gambling with the safety of the capital city and its people.
Three decades after the end of the of a 15-year civil war, the country remains divided along sectarian lines and mired in its worst financial meltdown in decades. The government, backed by the pro-Iranian militant Hezbollah group and its allies, has struggled to carry out reforms demanded by the international community as the price for a financial bailout.
The currency has collapsed, driving inflation into double digits and wiping out life savings. Rampant waste and mismanagement at the state electricity company mean it is able to provide only a few hours of electricity a day and garbage is left uncollected on potholed streets.
World leaders pledged almost $300 million to support the Lebanese people during a virtual donors’ conference on Sunday co-hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron and the United Nations.
The participants pledged to bring together “major resources” in the coming weeks to address the needs of Beirut and its people.
But they also urged the government to enact deep reforms to unlock broader financial support for an economy already in freefall before the blast destroyed the main port and damaged more than 200,000 homes.
Repairs are likely to cost billions of dollars that the government, which is bankrupt and in bailout talks with the International Monetary Fund, can’t afford.
In a strongly-worded statement at the end of the conference, IMF director Kristalina Georgieva said months of talks with Lebanon had “yet to yield results” as politicians and bankers remained divided over what needed to be done.
She set out four conditions for talks to move forward: restoring the financial solvency of the state, cutting losses at state-owned companies, passing a law to regulate capital outflows and setting up a social safety net.
“Commitment to these reforms will unlock billions of dollars for the benefit of the Lebanese people,” she said. “This is the moment for the country’s policymakers to act decisively. We stand ready to help.”
The country’s stock exchange opened Monday for the first time since the explosion, with investors focusing on Solidere, the real-estate company that rebuilt downtown Beirut after the civil war that ended in 1990.
The shares, which trade in U.S. dollars and had become a hedge against surging inflation and sliding currency, slumped as much as 13% before recovering the day’s losses.
The area developed by Solidere, once full of high-end boutiques and some of Beirut’s most exclusive homes, has been heavily damaged in the blast.