Lebanon’s government resigned Monday as the fallout from last week’s deadly explosion deepened a political crisis in the country’s blast-ravaged capital.
Prime Minister Hassan Diab said he would resign along with all of his ministers.
“We will back down and stand with the people. We need to open the door for the people,” he said in a televised address to the nation before presenting his resignation to President Michel Aoun.
The move comes after enraged protesters and world leaders alike demanded political reform following the Aug. 4 blast that killed almost 160 people and injured thousands more.
Protesters took to the streets of Beirut again Sunday with video showing what appeared to be tear gas canisters being fired at demonstrators who had congregated in a street near the parliament.
Diab blamed politicians who preceded him for the “earthquake” that has hit Lebanon.
“This disaster which has hit the Lebanese at the core, occurred as a result of chronic corruption in politics, administration and the State,” he said in a televised address.
The former professor said his government had failed in his battle against corruption.
“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.”
There will now be negotiations in parliament as to who will be the next prime minister amid calls for widespread economic and political reform. These negotiations could take weeks or even months, according to Karim Makdisi, an associate professor at the American University of Beirut, or could be very quick if an agreement has already been made behind closed doors.
Last week’s blast, which sent a mushroom-like cloud into the sky above Beirut’s port, dealt a blow to a country already on its knees.
The blast was triggered when a warehouse fire ignited hundreds of tons of ammonium nitrate, according to Diab.
It sent a shock wave that scarred the coastline of Beirut, destroying hundreds of buildings and leaving many homeless.
Nearly a week since the devastating explosion, public anger shows no signs of abating.
The protesters blame the ruling elite for chronic mismanagement and corruption that is believed to be behind the explosion and the country’s broader issues.