Lebanon’s premier Hassan Diab stepped down Monday amid fury within and outside his government over the deadly Beirut port blast he blamed on the incompetence and corruption of a decades-old ruling class.
“Today we are heeding the people and their demands to hold accountable those responsible for a disaster that has been concealed for seven years” he said in a televised address, blaming a “corrupt” political elite for the August 4 explosion.
“This is why today I announce the resignation of the government.”
Politics in multi-confessional Lebanon is dominated by former warlords from the 1975-1990 civil war who have exchanged their military fatigues for suits, or were replaced by relatives.
“Their corruption created this tragedy,” said Diab.
“Between us and change stands a thick wall protected by their dirty tactics,” he added.
Diab, who was named in December, is the second Lebanese premier to step down in 10 months.
His government, formed in January to tackle a spiralling economic crisis, has come under all-out attack since a port blast killed 160 people, wounded 6,000 others and ravaged swathes of Beirut.
Authorities say the explosion was triggered by a fire in a port warehouse where tonnes of volatile ammonium nitrate, a compound used primarily as a fertiliser, was left unsecured for years.