Lebanon’s Prime Minster Hassan Diab has resigned alongside all members of his entire government after a massive explosion in Beirut that killed more than 160 people.
Protesters had stormed the street after the explosion demanding a change of government.
The explosion is reported to have been caused by 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate used as fertiliser and in explosives which was left for six years.
Losses from the explosion are estimated to be between £8 billion to £12 billion and nearly 300,000 people were left homeless.
Diab while addressing the nation on Monday announced his resignation and all members of his cabinet although some ministers had already resigned alongside seven parliamentarians.
Dozens of protesters threw stones, fireworks and Molotov cocktails at security forces who responded with several rounds of tear gas. Some demonstrators tried to scale the blast walls outside Parliament Square before the Prime Minster’s speech.
Lebanon was already suffering through its worst economic crisis in decades, coupled with rising coronavirus rates, and the government has been plagued by accusations of corruption and gross mismanagement.
The blast which occured Tuesday last week damaged much of the Lebanese capital and was linked to a long-neglected stash of potentially explosive chemicals.
Diab came into power last December, two months after a popular uprising brought down the previous government.
His government is composed of technocrats and had been supported by major political parties, including the Iran-backed political and militant group Hezbollah.
The country begin the search for the third prime minister in less than a year, to contend with the spiralling crises Lebanon faces on a number of fronts.
The government had been seen as powerless in the face of a growing banking crisis. The state has not passed a capital controls law, exacerbating the country’s severe liquidity crunch.
The majority of people in the country have been subject to stringent and arbitrary cash withdrawal limits for nearly a year. Meanwhile, billions of US dollars are widely believed to have been withdrawn from Lebanon by the country’s economic elite, further depleting foreign currency reserves.
Lebanon’s financial woes were exacerbated earlier this year by government-imposed lockdowns, designed to stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic but which also brought the country’s ailing economy to a screeching halt.
Diab’s ministers had repeatedly accused the ruling class of disrupting their plans for reform.