The government of Lebanon resigned amidst ineffable remonstrations of the citizens against the explosion in Beirut port last Tuesday. According to the health ministry, at least 160 people were killed in the disaster, 6,000 were wounded and about 20 remain missing. This virulent event left about 3,00,000 people homeless while many are living in homes which are not safe any more.
The indifference of the ministers to the country’s corruption since 1990 and downright negligence is the reason the citizens are bereft and living in ruins today. Lebanon’s currency has lost around 70% of its value since anti-government protests began last October.
There are high unemployment and inflation rates. The state has not passed capital control law, the country is in inevitable poverty already. Last year the deflation of the foreign exchange rate and tax imposition on WhatsApp voice calls created mass demonstrations.
When the Beirut explosion occurred the citizens couldn’t see their motherland exploited anymore. The large scale protests over the week were the most violent in a year. The city convulsed with anger as protesters occupied several government ministries and threw stones and shards of glass at security forces. Police fired hundreds of rounds of tear gas as well as rubber bullets. It led the Prime Minister and cabinet to take culpability of the disaster and resign.
The announcement was made in a national TV address by Prime Minister Hassan Diab on Monday evening. The Prime minister became elected last year after popular uprising brought the previous government down. His speech sounded as if he was a reformist amidst the corruptive structure which wouldn’t let him bring revolution – a change for a better country.
Quotations from the Prime Ministers speech
He said, the corruption in Lebanon was “bigger than the state” itself and “a very thick and thorny wall separates us from change; a wall fortified by a class that is resorting to all dirty methods to resist and preserve its gains”
“They knew that we pose a threat to them and that the success of this government means a real change in this long-ruling class whose corruption has asphyxiated the country,” he added.
“We want to open the door to the national rescue, a rescue that the Lebanese will participate in achieving,”
“Therefore, today I announce the resignation of this government. May God protect Lebanon” he concluded.
President Michel Aoun has asked the government to stay on in a caretaker capacity until a new cabinet is formed.
The citizen’s reactions
According to New York Times, The protesters said Diab’s resignation fell far short of their demands for the ouster of the country’s political elite, many of whom gained prominence during the country’s brutal 15-year civil war, which ended in 1990.
“The resignation of ministers is not enough. Those who are responsible for the explosion should be held accountable,” said Michelle, a demonstrator in her early twenties, on Sunday. She carried a poster of a friend who was killed in the blast, inscribed with the message “My government killed me”.
About 20 people have been detained over the blast. But the citizens want international investigation so that justice is served. On Sunday, world leaders and international organizations pledged nearly $300 million in emergency humanitarian aid to Beirut.
Officials estimated Lebanon’s collective economic losses may amount to $15bn. Lebanon’s complex political system consists of leaders representing the different religious group and the elite class holds inexplicable power. There are massive food shortages and cash flow following the disaster.
Without a port which enables provident international trade, without a cabinet to control the double pandemic, with social unrest and casualties the future is cloudy for Lebanon.
Inputs: The New York Times and BBC