Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab has made a live televised address and confirmed that his government has resigned.
The resignation follows mass protests calling for political change in the country following the 4 August explosion at Beirut Port that has killed at least 200 people and left 300,000 people without shelter.
The cause of the blast has not been confirmed, although it is widely said to have been triggered by the explosion of ammonium nitrate that was improperly stored in a port warehouse after being confiscated from the Moldovan flagged ship MV Rhosus that arrived in Beirut in 2013.
There is widespread public anger in Beirut over the port explosion. It is blamed on shortcomings of the government. In an address on 8 August, Diab said: “Corruption and mismanagement have brought us to the current disaster.”
Security forces fired tear gas and rubber bullets during protests on 8 August and some demonstrators threw stones. Hundreds of protesters were injured and it was reported that a member of the Internal Security Forces died from a fall at Le Gray Hotel in downtown Beirut.
Protesters later stormed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs building in Ashrafieh. There had also been attempts by protesters to storm the Parliament building in downtown Beirut, which resulted in clashes with security forces on Al-Baladiya Street and in Riad el-Solh Square.
There has been some international assistance. World leaders pledged about $300m of emergency aid for Lebanon during a virtual donor’s conference led by French President Emmanuel Macron on 9 August.
Reflecting a lack of confidence in the Lebanese government, the donors said the aid will be distributed directly to the Lebanese people. The participants in the conference also agreed that further financial assistance will be made available if Lebanon commits to reforms.
“Further to emergency assistance, partners stand ready to support the economic and financial recovery of Lebanon, which requires, as part of a stabilisation strategy, that Lebanese authorities fully commit themselves to timely measures and reforms expected by the Lebanese people,” a statement from the French president’s office said.
The participants in the conference also said that assistance will be made available for an independent inquiry on the explosion should Lebanon request it. Lebanon has said it will conduct its own investigation, with President Michel Aoun rejecting calls for an international inquiry.
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