Last Tuesday’s blast in Beirut, Lebanon that killed nearly 200 persons has led to the resignation of the entire cabinet, with the Prime Minister, Hassan Diab, saying he had to do so in solidarity with the people. Mass anger and civic actions greeted the blast to a point the government has had to resign.
Although the Prime Minister is holding his government up as ‘victims of rumours’, he is also submitting to popular anger to the point of declaring opening the door to what he calls ‘national salvation’. That is the resignation of the government of the day.
Popular anger in Lebanon over the explosion is informed by belief that it has to do with endemic corruption, a point the PM noted by granting people’s right to furiousness on account of what he regards as “decades of unbelievable corruption”.
But it is not clear if the resignation is just because people poured into the streets or because several ministers already resigned or the dynamics of corruption where there is still a semblance of standards or the country’s crisis situation compounded by the Coronavirus pandemic.
Whichever is the case, the Prime Minister and the government he heads is out, with the solemn declaration: “I declare today the resignation of this government. May God protect Lebanon”
An AFP report appears to have best captured what has happened in Lebanon. Mr Diab was appointed in the aftermath of similar protest and took office earlier this year but only to be consumed by protest. The second paradox in the resignation is in the technocrat believed to be able to rise above the murky nature of Lebanese politics has, together with the cabinet, been consumed by one dimension of it – the blast which is a manifestation of the deeper crisis.
Right now, ammonium nitrate carelessly kept is the explanation for the explosion but only the on-going investigations will show the details of how it happened, who should have done what at what point to have averted the incident and what the penalties might be.
Judges are handling the investigation and the resignation of the government has no impact on that process in any formal sense.