Lebanon’s entire government has resigned over Beirut explosion
Lebanon’s health minister has said the country’s ‘whole government’ has resigned in the wake
of the deadly explosion in Beirut last week. On Tuesday the blast at a port killed more than 160 people and
sparked days of violent protests.
Ministers quit over Beirut ‘catastrophe’ as security forces clash with angry demonstrators
Tuesday’s blast is understood to have been caused by 2,750 tons of confiscated ammonium nitrate stored in
Beirut port for the past six years
Chants of “revolution” rang through Beirut’s streets yesterday (Sunday) as protesters confronted security forces,
while two government ministers resigned in protest at last week’s deadly blast that killed 158 people.
Manal Abdel-Samad, the information minister, and Demianos Kattar, the environment minister who is one of prime
minister Hassan Diab’s closest advisers, announced they were stepping down from the government,
which is accused of gross negligence and failing to prevent the explosion.
Abdel-Samad cited the government’s failure to enact reforms and the “Beirut catastrophe” as her two reasons
for stepping down.
Diab asked other ministers to delay their resignations until the results of a special cabinet session,
set to be held this afternoon, where a proposal by the prime minister to hold early elections is due to be discussed.
The resignations came as security forces fired tear gas and – according to some reports –
live ammunition during a second day of clashes with protesters in Beirut.
We’ve reached the limit of what we can take. People were shot in the protests last night and still came down tonight. There’s nothing left to lose,”
said Maria Bitar, a demonstrator, as chants of “revolution” rolled down the heavily fortified streets close to Lebanon’s parliament building.
Tuesday’s blast is understood to have been caused by 2,750 tons of confiscated ammonium nitrate stored
in Beirut port for the past six years.
The chemical, most commonly used as a fertilizer, is highly explosive.
Beirut’s residents are seething that such a dangerous material was stored with so few precautions,
so close to civilian areas. More than 6,000 were injured and several hundred thousand were left homeless,
with homes and businesses destroyed across entire neighborhoods of the city.