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Hassan Diab

Lebanon govt quits; blames blast on corruption

BEIRUT, August 11, 2020

Lebanon’s Prime Minister Hassan Diab last night announced his government’s resignation following widespread protests after a huge explosion that devastated Beirut.
 
The August 4 blast at a port warehouse killed at least 163 people, injured more than 6,000 and destroyed swathes of the Mediterranean capital, compounding months of political and economic meltdown. The wearhouse had more than 2,000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, officials said. 
 
“Today we follow the will of the people in their demand to hold accountable those responsible for the disaster that has been in hiding for seven years,” Diab said in a speech announcing the resignation.
 
He blamed the disaster on endemic corruption and said those responsible should be ashamed because their actions had led to a catastrophe “beyond description”.
 
“I said before that corruption is rooted in every lever of the state but I have discovered that corruption is greater than the state,” he said, pointing to a political elite for preventing change and saying his government faced a brick wall on reforms, Reuters reported.
 
The blast, protests and the resignation have plunged Lebanese politics deeper into turmoil and may further hamper already-stalled talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on a financial rescue plan, Reuters said.
 
President Michel Aoun accepted the resignation and asked Diab’s government - formed in January with the backing of Iran’s powerful Hezbollah group and its allies - to stay as a caretaker until a new cabinet is formed, a televised announcement said.
 



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