Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab announced on public television Monday that his cabinet was resigning following three days of protests over the Beirut explosion and alleged government corruption.
On August 4 an explosion at Beirut’s shipping port, believed to have been caused by 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate, killed at least 220 people and injured an estimated 5,000. Currently, 110 people are still missing.
In response, many people have held the government accountable for the explosion, accusing the government of negligence and corruption. Human Rights Watch called for an impartial investigation into the causes of the explosion.
In his speech on Monday, Diab said that the state was constrained by a system of corruption that was “bigger than the State.” The explosion was one example of corruption, but corruption cases were widespread. Diab stated that, in the midst of a great tragedy, his opposition only cared to “score political points” by trying to hold the government accountable for “collapse, waste and public debt.”
Before concluding his speech with his cabinet’s resignation, Diab stated:
We carried the Lebanese people’s demand for change. But a very thick and thorny wall separates us from change; a wall fortified by a class that is resorting to all dirty methods in order to resist and preserve its gains, its positions and its ability to control the State. We fought fiercely and honorably, but this battle is unequal. We were alone, and they were all against us.
Diab had only held the role of Prime Minister since January. Lebanon President Michel Aoun has asked the government to remain in a caretaker capacity until a new cabinet is formed.